There was a red flag within three minutes of the start of the session when the Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 stopped at Turn 3 before continuing under its own power, and during the brief stoppage it was extended as a result of Ryan Dalziel’s Era Motorsport LMP2 car stopping at Turn 4.
Just past the quarter-hour mark, the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs of Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Lynn sat 1-2 at the top of the times, on 1min32.4sec laps, just 0.004sec apart, despite Lynn having a lap invalidated for a track limits violation. Then Bourdais trimmed a further three tenths off his lap. While the CGR cars sat in the pits, Pipo Derani moved the Action Express Racing #31 Whelen Engineering Caddy to the top of the pile, one tenth faster than Bourdais andwell over half a second faster than the quickest Acura ARX-05 at this stage, the Wayne Taylor Racing machine of Ricky Taylor.
Tom Blomqvist then put everyone into perspective with a remarkable 1min32.217sec to go quickest by almost 0.8sec in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura, before Taylor made it an Acura 1-2, albeit seven tenths off Blomqvist’s best. That left a gap that Bourdais plugged in the #01 Cadillac, 0.49sec from top spot.
The red flag had to fly again with 37mins to go when Wayne Boyd, late third man for the Forty7 Motorsports team, had his LMP3 car die on him and needed rescuing. Five minutes after the green flag flew, there was another red when Performance Tech Motorsports’ LMP3 car driven by Dan Goldburg stopped at Turn 10.
Some 44 of the 48 entries then left the pits with 22mins remaining, but somehow Bourdais’ co-driver Renger van der Zande found enough space to trim the deficit to the MSR Acura down to 0.322sec and pull over 0.35sec clear of WTR’s Acura.
However, with 5 minutes remaining, the MLT Motorsports LMP3 car driven by Tyler Maxson went straight on at Turn 7 and into the tires, ending the 90min session slightly early.
Behind the top three, Derani was fourth in the AXR #31 he’ll share with Olivier Pla and Mike Conway this weekend, while Earl Bamber in the #02 Cadillac was fifth ahead of Tristan Vautier’s JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac. The second AXR car being shared by Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike ROckenfeller ended up with a best time that left it behind five LMP2 cars.
The LMP2 class saw PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports shining as ever, Mikkel Jensen and Jonathan Bomarito separated by 0.7sec and the Tower Motorsports car of Louis Deletraz. DragonSpeed’s first IMSA session since Sebring saw the Henrik Hedman/Juan Pablo Montoya/Sebastian Montoya-shared car end the day fifth in class, 1.2sec off the best in class.
Colin Braun drove the CORE autosport car to the top of LMP3, 0.7sec faster than Garett Grist of Jr III Racing’s similar Ligier JS P320 and Dakota Dickerson in the now-crunched MLT machine.
Dirk Muller in the Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 led the GTD class by a mere 0.028sec in front of the highly impressive Andy Lally in Magnus Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage, and only 0.073sec ahead of Frankie Montecalvo’s #12 Lexus RC F run by Vasser Sullivan Racing.
Luis Perez Companc in the AF Corse Ferrari 488 was fourth, and this quartet was quicker than the top GTD Pro class car, the Aston Martin of Heart of Racing, driven to its quickest lap by Alex Riberas. Daniel Serra was only 0.046sec in arrears, a strong return by Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488.
Whatever the model of BMW down the years, they tend to go well at The Glen, so it was no surprise to see Bill Auberlen in the Turner Motorsports BMW M4 slot into fifth in GTD, ahead of the Cetilar Racing Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco, and Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Augusto Farfus claimed third in GTD Pro driving the works BMW M4 run by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, ahead of Ben Barnicoat in the second Lexus and the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes of Maro Engel.
If Corvette Racing is to avenge its bitter luck at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago, there is some work to do, judging by the #3 C8.R’s pace around The Glen in this session. The car to be shared by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor was seventh and last of the GTD Pro cars, ahead of only five of the 16 GTD cars, and 0.75sec behind Riberas’ Aston.
Second practice begins at 8.00am local (Eastern) time on Saturday.
Full results to follow…