For the second consecutive year, Felipe Nasr turned the fastest lap in the first on-track activity of the annual coming together of premier North American motor sports on the streets of Long Beach.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicked off the packed Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with a two-hour practice session for the DPi and GT Le Mans categories, led by Nasr and the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R from Action Express Racing.
The team’s Cadillac DPi machines traded the top time throughout the long session amongst themselves and also allowed both of Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05s to spend time atop the running order. Nasr’s best effort around the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit came on the 58th of 61 laps for the No. 31 Cadillac.
At 1:12.259, that lap from the Brazilian pilot secured the fastest lap for the car he shares with Pipo Derani but also unofficially broke the prototype lap record at the historic venue. Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya was 0.663 seconds slower during qualifying for this race in 2018, marking a significant speed increase for the new-for-2019 DPi division.
Ricky Taylor turned the second-fastest lap in the No. 7 Acura DPi, lapping 0.141 seconds off Nasr’s leading pace. Montoya landed third in the second Acura, just 0.014 seconds clear of Joao Barbosa of Action Express’ No. 5 Cadillac and less than two-tenths of a second quicker than Colin Braun who completed the top five for CORE autosport.
Ricky’s brother Jordan was sixth fastest in the Cadillac from Wayne Taylor Racing, over Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P. Both of these drivers also lapped quicker than Montoya’s year-old record to begin the two-day weekend.
Incidents for both JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillacs paused the lengthy practice. The cars placed ninth and 10th in the 11-car category, faster than only Juncos Racing’s similar Cadillac-powered DPi — the only car more than one second off the pace.
Tandy Gaps GTLM Competition
The Porsche GT Team opened the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach weekend with the fastest GTLM lap thanks to Nick Tandy’s quickest tour of the street circuit.
Leading the class points along with co-driver Patrick Pilet, Tandy turned a 1:17.549 in Practice 1 to put the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR 0.244 seconds ahead of its sister car, the No. 912 driven on its quickest lap by Earl Bamber.
Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia were third and fifth for Corvette Racing and split by BMW Team RLL driver Jesse Krohn in fourth. This top five, ending with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R, was covered by exactly two-tenths of a second.
The two Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs were sixth and seventh while Connor De Phillippi rounded out the class, 1.136 seconds slower than Tandy, who was 0.68 seconds slower than last year’s GTLM pole time and the circuit record for the class.
The top two WeatherTech Championship divisions will return to the Long Beach street circuit at 4:45 p.m. PDT for a 45-minute practice outing which will lead directly into each class’ 15-minute qualifying session to set the grid for Saturday’s race.