Albuquerque in IMSA season finale with Action Express Racing
Filipe Albuquerque ensured Action Express Racing was the fastest team as the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans weekend kicked off. | Photo: Phillip Abbott / IMSA

Action Express Racing swept the top of the Practice 1 timesheet at Road Atlanta, providing an early boost for the team’s championship hopes as the final IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race weekend of 2018 got underway.

While the No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R was fastest thanks to a 1:11.878 turned by Filipe Albuquerque, it’s the sister No. 31 machine that’s in contention for the season-long championship.

Felipe Nasr ended the 60-minute session with the second-fastest lap in the championship-leading car, although his time was more than a quarter-second off Albuquerque’s pace.

Jordan Taylor was third fastest in Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Cadillac to create a top-three sweep for the American manufacturer while Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor and Mazda Team Joest’s Oliver Jarvis completed the top five.

Championship challenger CORE autosport, which enters the final round of 2018 just four markers behind the points leader, was sixth fastest with its No. 54 ORECA 07 at the hands of Colin Braun.

The top nine prototypes were separated by less than a second while the entire 14-car class lapped within 1.9 seconds.

Fords Out Front in GTLM

Both of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GTs, including the championship-eligible No. 67 car, were fast in the weekend’s initial practice at the 2.54-mile road course.

Although out of the GT Le Mans title fight, Dirk Mueller put the No. 66 Ford on top with a 1:18.343, just 0.038 seconds quicker than Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe and co-driver Richard Westbrook sit second in the standings with a nine-point deficit to overcome.

The points-leading No. 3 Corvette C7.R ended the session in third with Antonio Garcia behind the wheel, although the effort was more than two-tenths of a second behind the slower of the two Fords.

Laurens Vanthoor and Tommy Milner completed the top five while Risi Competizione, competing for the first time since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, brought up the rear of the nine-car class.

Montaplast Fast in GTD Return

Christopher Mies pushed the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 he shares with Daniel Morad and Sheldon van der Linde to the top of the GT Daytona order in Practice 1.

A lap of 1:20.283 turned by Mies was 0.376 seconds clear of Jack Hawksworth who placed second in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3. Markus Palttala, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Patrick Long completed the top five in BMW, Mercedes AMG and Porsche machinery, respectively.

The highest-placing championship challenger was Bryan Sellers in Paul Miller Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 whose best lap was more than six-tenths of a second slower than Mies’ fastest time, placing him sixth on the timesheet.

The No. 86 Acura NSX GT3, co-driven by Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman, was 10th in the 14-car class at the conclusion of Practice 1 with the quickest lap turned by Hindman.

All three classes will be back on track at 3:15 p.m. EDT for the second of Thursday’s three practice outings.

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