By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship returned to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge and Friday practice brought about some interesting results on the time sheets.
The Friday morning practice session had dry conditions and the Acura Team Penske DPi machines were 1-2 with Ricky Taylor setting a fastest lap of 1 minute, 13.601 seconds in the No. 7 ahead of Juan Montoya in the No. 6.
Cadillacs were three of the next four cars on the time sheet in third, fifth and sixth with the No. 85 JDC Motorsports ORECA LMP2 sneaking its way into fourth place.
However, the more interesting statistic might go to the GT classes. The No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR was the fastest GT Le Mans car with Earl Bamber setting the quickest lap of 1 minute, 20.148 seconds.
However, in what is designed to be the slower GT Daytona field, the fastest car was less than seven tenths of a second off the pace with Bill Auberlen in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 setting a lap of 1 minute, 20.803 seconds. What’s more remarkable is that the No. 24 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW M8 in GTLM was only .099 seconds quicker despite being a new 2018 model car. Meanwhile, the No. 25 BMW M8 could only muster a 1 minute, 21.424 second lap for last among GTLM cars and 26th overall.
There were four GTD cars interloping amongst the GTLM field. The No. 93 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 was second quickest in GTD, only .024 seconds behind the No. 96. On the time sheet they were 18th and 19th overall while the fastest GTLM car was 15th. The two Lexus RC F GT3 machines were 24th and 25th on the time sheet with the No. 15 of Jack Hawksworth ahead of the No. 14 of Dominik Baumann.
If the GTD field can fine tune their setups better than the GTLM field, we could see an interesting GT battle at Mid-Ohio.
Showers fell onto the 2.258 mile natural terrain road course minutes before the session was scheduled to start. Only 30 of 34 cars made a lap with Montoya setting the fastest lap with a time of 1 minute, 36.867 seconds. Teammate Helio Castroneves was second quickest at 1 minute, 36.997 seconds.
The biggest wild card with the rain is the GTLM field. Because of Michelin’s wet weather prowess, it’s been noted that the GTLM cars can sometimes be quicker than the Prototype field. As such, the fastest GTLM car was again the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR but this time it was seventh overall ahead of the No. 3 Corvette C7.R driven by Antonio Garcia. The third GTLM car in the overall top ten was the No. 4 Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin.
There were a couple of red flags during the second practice session for extreme amounts of rain. After the track went green, it was an incredible sight to see cars coming off of the final corner and displacing water as they accelerated up the front straight. One car ended up spinning coming off of the final corner and it was the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT which ended up 19th overall on the time sheet, seventh in class.
The fastest GTD car was the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen. The strange thing about that is the No. 33 was the slowest car in the Friday morning session.
There is a Saturday morning practice session at 8:35 ET with qualifying segregated by class starting at 12:05 p.m. ET with the GTD cars. The 2 hour, 40 minute race starts on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET.