Castroneves Leads Opening Sebring Practice for Acura Team Penske

by Paul Hensby
Helio Castroneves was fastest in FP1

Helio Castroneves took Acura Team Penske to the top of the time sheets in the opening practice session ahead of this weekends Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The Brazilian set a best time of 1:48.237s to put the Acura ARX-05 DPi he shares with Ricky Taylor and Graham Rahal to the front of the field as DPi machines locked out the top ten.

0.150 seconds off the leading Penske was the Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, with Tristan Vautier setting the cars best time, while Renger van der Zande’s best time of 1:48.415s ensured the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac ended the hour-long session third.

Olivier Pla was fourth fastest for Tequila Patron ESM in the leading Nissan Onroak DPi, while the leading Mazda Team Joest RT24-P of Jonathan Bomarito was fifth, just ahead of the second ESM of Luis Felipe Derani.

The leading non-DPi was the Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca LMP2 of Patricio O’Ward in eleventh, 1.220 seconds off the pace of Castroneves, while the two Ligier LMP2’s from United Autosports and AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports brought up the rear of the Prototype field in fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.

The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing trio of Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller set the pace in the GT Le Mans class, with their best time of 1:57.567s enough to deny the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Toni Vilander by more than two-tenths of a second, with the second Ford mere thousandths back in third.

The two Porsche 911 RSR’s were fourth and fifth ahead of the two BMW M8 GTLM’s, while the two Corvette C7.R’s brought up the rear of the class in sixth and seventh.

Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher led the way for Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 in the GT Daytona class, just ahead of the Spirit of Race Ferrari of Daniel Serra, while the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 was third.

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