The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s 2019 visit to Road America began with Team Penske reasserting itself at the top of the DPi class with the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 and driver Dane Cameron.
After two straight race victories for Mazda Team Joest, the team was mired outside the top five in the first session at the 4-mile track near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Instead, with the Mazda RT24-P slowed by Balance of Performance adjustments to its minimum weight, boost pressure and fuel capacity, the mostly unchanged Acura DPi rose to the top.
Cameron’s 1:50.007 easily eclipsed Simon Trummer’s standing prototype record set last year by 1.637 seconds. The lap was just 0.023 seconds quicker than Colin Braun went in the midday session in CORE autosport’s Ligier Nissan DPi, which is competing at Road American unchanged from its configuration at the previous round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where Braun stormed to the overall pole.
Ricky Taylor placed the sister No. 7 Acura near the top of the timesheet with the third-fastest lap and the last one within a second of Cameron’s time.
Felipe Nasr’s best time — good for fourth and the best of the Cadillac DPi-V.R. contingent — was more than a second off the session’s best while Misha Goikhberg ranked fifth in JDC-Miller Motorsports’ Cadillac DPi. The pair of Mazda DPis ranked fifth and seventh, split by Filipe Albuquerque in the second Action Express Racing car.
French Tops LMP2 on Home Turf
Local driver James French returned to Performance Tech Motorsports and gave the team the fastest LMP2 lap in Practice 1.
The Sheboygan, Wisconsin native delivered a 1:53.808 in the No. 38 ORECA 07, topping the class by 1.204 seconds. Matt McMurry, piloting the only other car competing in the class, was behind the wheel of the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports machine.
Tandy Puts Porsche Ahead in GTLM
The quicker of the two Porsche GT Team entries opened the Road America event with more speed than the top cars from the three other GT Le Mans manufacturers.
By four-tenths of a second, Nick Tandy put the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR atop the GTLM running order with a best lap of 2:02.147. That lap from Tandy, executed on just the fourth of 23 laps turned by the car, was 0.332 seconds under the circuit record for the class.
Oliver Gavin was the second-quickest GTLM pilot with just 0.041 seconds between his No. 4 Corvette C7.R and Tom Blomqvist’s top time in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE. After that BMW, the second cars from Corvette and Porsche completed the top five.
While those five quickest cars lapped within the same second, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT duo languished at the bottom of results for the eight-car class, more than a second off the leading pace.
Bleekemolen Leads Competitive GTD Division
Jeroen Bleekemolen and Bryan Sellers emerged as the quickest drivers of GT3 machinery in Practice 1 by turning in laps that sent their Riley Motorsports and Paul Miller Racing cars to the forefront of the GT Daytona field.
The 2:06.060 lap that put Bleekemolen 0.042 seconds clear of Sellers unofficially broke the GTD record at Road America by over three-tenths of a second, similar to Tandy’s accomplishment in the premier GT category.
After the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 cars that set themselves apart atop the timesheet, Patrick Long was 0.355 seconds back but placed third in Park Place Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R. Jack Hawksworth and Dennis Olsen were fourth and fifth for AIM Vasser Sullivan and Wright Motorsports.
Down to Matt Campbell in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, the top nine GTD cars ended Practice 1 separated by less than one second.
Friday’s WeatherTech Championship activity at Road America will conclude with a second one-hour practice outing, scheduled to go green at 4:25 p.m. CDT.