Lone Star Le Mans: Corvette DPs, Ford lead opening practice

by Daniel Lloyd

Corvette Daytona Prototypes swept the top three places during the first free practice session of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship‘s visit to Circuit of the Americas.

Joao Barbosa set the fastest lap during a dry morning run aboard the points leading #5 Action Express DP he shares with Christian Fittipaldi.

The Portuguese driver’s 1:58.813s time was enough to edge out the sister #31 Action Express, driven by Dane Cameron, by 0.105 seconds. Cameron and team-mate Eric Curran trail their counterparts by just one point heading into the penultimate race of the season.

The session was red flagged for half an hour when the #55 Mazda stopped on track shortly after proceedings began.

Third quickest was another Corvette DP, this time the Wayne Taylor Racing entry piloted by Jordan Taylor.

Taylor finished half a second off the pace in the car he shares with brother Ricky. The pair are currently third in the standings and 10 points adrift of the #31 crew.

The best non-Daytona Prototype time – a 1:59.389 – was set by Oswaldo Negri Jr in the Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda JSP2.

In Prototype Challenge, Tom Kimber-Smith set a blistering pace on board the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09, turning in a lap just 2.3 seconds off the overall pace.

The Briton ended the morning a clear 0.7 seconds ahead of Renger van der Zande’s championship leading Starworks Motorsport entry, with Richard Bradley pedaling the sister Starworks machine to third.

GT Le Mans saw Ford claim first blood with both cars placing in the top three. Dirk Mueller in the #66 Ford GT set the purple time of 2:04.638s, which was enough to edge out the #911 Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet by 0.275 seconds.

Ryan Briscoe came to within a tenth of a second of the Frenchman, but had to settle for third quickest in the sister Ford.

The GT Daytona category saw five different manufacturers in the top five places, with the Jens Klingmann’s Turner Motorsport BMW M6 coming off best with a 2:08.075. In what should be a tight class battle during Saturday’s race, Klingmann was able to pip entries from Dodge Viper, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Audi.

Round 11 of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship continues with a second practice session at 17:35 on Thursday, September 15.

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