Two red flags reduced the opening one-hour practice session for this weekend’s pair of TUDOR United Sports Car Championship races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, leaving the 1:20.243 lap set early in the running by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ Scott Pruett to stand atop the running order.
Pruett, coming off of back-to-back wins in the No. 01 Riley-Ford EcoBoost turbo DP with teammate Memo Rojas, set the time on Lap 8 in slightly cool morning conditions, and was followed by the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi (1:20.590). Andy Meyrick, another driver to set a quick time early in the session, completed the top-3 in the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC 13 (1:20.603).
IMSA’s latest round of Balance of Performance changes aimed at improving the competitiveness of the P2 cars by taking power away from the Ford- and Corvette-powered DPs, saw Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Johannes van Overbeek post the fourth-fastest lap of the morning (1:20.735) in his No. 2 HPD ARX-03b, 0.492 seconds behind Pruett.
A number of cars struggled to post fast laps during the session as 55 entries filled the 2.2-mile road course. The leading PC time (1:20.915) set by the No. 54 of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett ranked sixth overall, ahead of seven cars from the Prototype class. The No. 8 Starworks PC (1:21.402) and the No. 25 8Star PC (1:21.821) completed the top 3.
BMW Team RLL’s Dirk Muller led the GT Le Mans category on the No. 56 BMW Z4 (1:24.066), a few tenths clear of Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner in the No. 04 C7.R (1:24.387) and Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR (1:24.401).
The No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America piloted by Leh Keen was fastest in GT Daytona (1:27.641), while the resurrected No. 33 Riley Technologies SRT Viper GT3-R, coming off of a massive rebuild after its fire at Sebring, was a pleasant surprise in second. Jeroen Bleekemolen (1:28.167) pushed the replacement chassis to a time that was just 0.038 ahead of the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 of Kyle Marcelli (1:28.205).
BAR1 Motorsports’ Doug Bielefeld had a significant off at Turn 5, causing the first stoppage that lasted 13 minutes, and with the session almost complete, Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Spencer Pumpelly came to a stop in the No. 45 Audi R8, pulling off at Turn 6.