Wet conditions at Virginia International Raceway kept speeds down and preparations for Sunday’s race minimal but were unable to prevent the Porsche GT Team from sweeping the third of the weekend’s three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice sessions.
Well off the pace of Friday’s two sessions due to the conditions, Laurens Vanthoor turned a 2:00.631 in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR to top the hourlong session. The lap around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course put the car 0.307 seconds ahead of its sister car, driven during the session by Nick Tandy.
The pair of Ford GTs fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t experience the same level of consistency with Joey Hand turning in the third-fastest lap in the No. 66 Ford while Ryan Briscoe struggled in the No. 67 car and was only able to place last in the eight-car GT Le Mans class.
Connor De Phillippi and Jan Magnussen added BMW and Corvette machinery to the top five, although both were more than second in arrears of Vanthoor’s chart-topping time. John Edwards and Oliver Gavin placed sixth and seventh in the challenging session, ranking ahead of Briscoe whose best time was 2.566 seconds slower than Vanthoor.
The GT Daytona competitors on hand at VIR experienced even more separation than GTLM with nearly six seconds separating the 12 cars that ventured onto the unideal racing surface.
On his 20th of 21 laps, Jeroen Bleekemolen went to the top of the GTD order in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, displacing the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Magnus Racing which had led much of the 60-minute practice thanks to an early fast lap by Andy Lally. Bleekemolen’s 2:03.544 was less than a half second off the slowest GTLM time and was more than two-tenths quicker than Lally’s best effort.
Richard Heistand added the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 he shares with Jack Hawksworth to the top three, making it three different manufacturers in the group.
With mixed conditions expected for qualifying, the wet practice may have offered some preparation for making a run at a good starting position. However, the race itself is expected to be dry, limiting the benefits of practicing on a soaked track.
Qualifying for both classes is set for Saturday at 12:25 p.m. EDT with GTD preceding GTLM. Race day Sunday will begin with an early 20-minute warm-up session followed by the two-hour, 40-minute race at 1:35 p.m. with live coverage on NBCSN.