Joey Hand practices for CTMP IMSA race in Ford GT
Dirk Mueller set the fastest lap to begin the GT-only Northeast Grand Prix weekend at Lime Rock Park. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

Dirk Mueller was the fastest driver in the hourlong practice session that kicked off the first GT-only IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend of 2018 as Chip Ganassi Racing and the Porsche GT Team surfaced to the top half of the GT Le Mans field.

At 50.924 seconds, Mueller ensured the No. 66 Ford GT led the 18-car field after he and co-driver Joey Hand completed 46 total laps of the 1.5-mile Lime Rock Park circuit.

Nick Tandy was fastest early on but settled for the second position in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, just 0.097 seconds off Mueller’s leading time. The second Ganassi-run Ford was added to the top three by Ryan Briscoe, who was 0.059 seconds further back from Tandy.

Earl Bamber and Jesse Krohn were fourth and fifth in the second Porsche and the fastest BMW M8 GTE, respectively. The sister BMW Team RLL entry was 0.566 seconds off the pace on Conor De Phillippi’s fastest lap to place sixth ahead of both Corvette Racing machines that were 0.784 and 0.799 seconds slower than the class-leading Ford.

Both Porsches spun at the same corner at different points in Practice 1, but the session ran without interruption.

Lexus Duo First and Last in GTD

A 52.303 lap from Kyle Marcelli early in the session was enough to keep 3GT Racing on top in GT Daytona with its No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, but the team’s second car is found at the bottom of the timesheet.

While Mario Farnbacher ended the session in the car, Jack Hawksworth was fastest between the two in the second Lexus, numbered 15. Despite being within 0.330 seconds of Marcelli’s time, Hawksworth and the No. 15 Lexus could do no better than 10th.

The competitiveness of the class was especially present at the head of the GTD running order, where Alvaro Parente was a mere 0.005 seconds off the top lap from Marcelli.

Andy Lally, Bill Auberlen and Bryan Sellers added Audi, BMW and Lamborghini cars to the fully unique top five, which was split by just 0.206 seconds.

Two more 60-minute practice sessions are on the Friday schedule at Lime Rock, the first of which will begin at 1:55 p.m. EDT.

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