The Porsche GT Team started strong at Virginia International Raceway as its cars surfaced atop the GT Le Mans running order to begin the Michelin GT Challenge weekend.
Driving the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, Laurens Vanthoor came within 0.091 seconds of the GTLM record at the 3.27-mile circuit as he edged out Nick Tandy of the No. 911 by 0.139 seconds.
Porsche’s GTLM competition from Ford, Corvette and BMW filled the remainder of the running order in two-by-two fashion. At 0.330 and 0.366 seconds off the top Porsche, Ryan Briscoe and Dirk Mueller in Chip Ganassi Racing’s Fords came closest to upsetting Porsche’s sweep of the top spots.
Jan Magnussen set the fifth-fastest lap as the quickest Corvette Racing pilot in the session while Oliver Gavin, John Edwards, and Connor De Phillippi were next, spanning 0.582 to 1.723 seconds off the leading pace.
Outgoing GT Daytona competitor Ben Keating set the mark to beat in the all-GT3 class with a 1:44.336 in Riley Motorsports’ Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Patrick Long and Andy Lally, while lapping 0.341 and 0.397 seconds slower than Keating on their respective quickest laps, joined the Mercedes-AMG driver in beating the standing GTD record at VIR.
After the Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Lamborghini machines in the top three, Lexus and Ferrari power was added to the top five by Jack Hawksworth and Toni Vilander, ensuring no manufacturer was repeated in the group, which was separated by 0.499 seconds.
Class points leaders Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman placed ninth out of 13, nearly a second off the pace in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 from Meyer Shank Racing.
The GT cars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return to the track for a second hourlong practice outing Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT.