For the first time since Practice 2 during last year’s season-ending Petit Le Mans, CORE autosport’s car was fastest in an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship session.
Driving an ORECA 07, Colin Braun was 0.137 seconds faster than his closest competition in that session at Road Atlanta last October. Nine months later and now in the cockpit of a Ligier Nissan DPi, the driver put 0.419 seconds between his best lap of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and that of Jonathan Bomarito during Friday’s midday practice that kicked off the seventh round of 2019.
At 1:05.876, Braun unofficially broke his CTMP lap record from last year by 0.439 seconds as he gave the Nissan DPi its first top lap of the year. Bomarito, driving the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P that won at Watkins Glen International five days ago, was the only other driver under the official prototype circuit record, eclipsing it himself by the slim margin of 0.02 seconds.
Helio Castroneves and Pipo Derani had the third- and fourth-fastest times in their Acura ARX-05 and Cadillac DPi-V.R cars, ensuring all four Daytona Prototype international manufacturers were represented in the top four positions. Castroneves set the fastest times in the first and third sectors but Braun’s 31.046 trip through Sector 2 solidified the chart-topping performance for the CORE Nissan.
The second Team Penske Acura DPi completed the top five with the time set on its 17th tour of the 2.459-mile permanent road course, at which point Juan Pablo Montoya was at the controls. The five cars atop the DPi running order turned an average of 31 laps in a productive start to the weekend and were split by just over half a second.
Renger van der Zande was sixth in Wayne Taylor Racing’s Konica Minolta-branded Cadillac DPi, 0.654 seconds off Braun’s pace. The best lap from Oliver Jarvis put the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest entry next on the timesheet as the final car within a second of Braun.
Masson Quickest for Performance Tech
The ORECA 07 of Performance Tech Motorsports began the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix weekend on top in the two-car LMP2 division, going 0.583 seconds quicker than its only competition: the identical ORECA of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.
At 1:09.006, Kyle Masson’s class-leading pace in the Performance Tech entry was 2.691 seconds off the lap record Braun set in the same LMP2 model a year ago.
Porsche Paces GTLM Despite Track Limits Violations
The Porsche GT Team ended Practice 1 with the fastest two laps in GT Le Mans despite no fewer than five laps being invalidated for the Porsche 911 RSRs due to track limits violations.
Earl Bamber was the class’ fastest driver with a 1:14.560 lap that put the No. 912 Porsche 0.097 seconds clear of the No. 911, pedaled to its fastest lap by Nick Tandy.
BMW, Ford and Corvette, tasked with overcoming the Porsche cars that have won every race since the Rolex 24 at Daytona, were third, fourth and fifth with their best cars. Connor De Phillippi came closest to breaking up Porsche’s sweep of the top two positions at 0.328 seconds off Tandy and 0.425 seconds back from Bamber.
After De Phillippi’s top time in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL entry, Ryan Briscoe and Oliver Gavin of the No. 67 Ford GT and No. 4 Corvette C7.R were separated by 0.105 seconds as they completed the top five.
Filling the final three positions in the class, the second cars from Ford, Corvette and BMW were each roughly seven-tenths of a second off the Porsche duo.
Bleekemolen Takes Backup Mercedes-AMG to Top
A spare chassis prepared by Riley Motorsports after its Mercedes-AMG GT3 was involved in a Lap 1 crash five days ago in Upstate New York landed atop the GT Daytona running order to begin the CTMP weekend.
Jeroen Bleekemolen was the session’s fastest driver in the all-GT3 category, navigating the 10-turn road course just 0.013 seconds quicker than Andy Lally in Magnus Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 on their respective best laps.
A third marque was added to the top three due to Frankie Montecalvo’s top time in the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 while Bryan Sellers and Jack Hawksworth added second Lamborghini and Lexus machines to the final positions of the top five, which was separated by 0.44 seconds.
Watkins Glen pole sitters and race winners Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher of the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 were only fast enough for ninth in the 13-car class.
Beginning at 4:10 p.m. EDT, Practice 2 will give WeatherTech Championship competitors another hour of practice time and conclude Friday’s running at the Canadian venue. A third practice at 8 a.m. Saturday will be followed a few hours later by individual qualifying sessions for each class.