Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Felipe Nasr Paces Opening IMSA Practice at Sebring

By IMSA Wire Service

SEBRING, Fla. – Defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season champion Felipe Nasr and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R team were the quickest ones “off the truck” in Thursday’s initial practice session for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

Nasr posted a best lap of 1:46.996 (124.507 mph) to top the overall and DPi class time charts in the car he’s sharing with new full-season co-driver Pipo Derani and Eric Curran, the driver with whom he co-drove to the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype title who has moved to an IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup-only role with the team this year.

Derani has won the Twelve Hours of Sebring in two of the past three years – including last year in the No. 22 Nissan DPi with Johannes van Overbeek and Nicolas Lapierre – and is new to the No. 31 squad this year.

“Now that he’s in the car with us, we need to make sure he wins this race as well, which will be my first time here winning Sebring,” Nasr said. “I really want to do it. I felt like we had an amazing car at Daytona and we started on the right foot here again. I’m really hoping we can get on that top step pretty soon.”

Nasr’s best lap was 0.355 seconds faster than Dane Cameron’s time in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi that placed him second on the speed chart. Third was Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Renger van der Zande in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. The top three times were within less than four-tenths of a second.

In the GTLM class, 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro winner Laurens Vanthoor led the way with a lap of 1:56.983 (113.877 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet. Vanthoor saw his teammates in the No. 911 team win the GLTM class win here last year, and he’s eager to flip the script in 2019.

“Obviously, Porsche won last year, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I would like it to be 912 this time,” he said. “Porsche has a really big history at Sebring, it’s the most wins ever (95 wins), so we’ll try to continue that.”

Matt McMurry was quickest in LMP2 practice with a lap of 1:50.877 (120.148 mph) in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA he is co-driving with Gabriel Aubry and Anders Fjorback. In GTD, two-time class winner Mario Farnbacher led opening practice in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 he’s sharing with Trent Hindman and Justin Marks. Farnbacher’s best lap was a 2:00.793 (110.285 mph).

The next WeatherTech Championship practice starts at 2:40 p.m. ET.

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