After Road Atlanta was thoroughly drenched by the remnants of Hurricane Michael on Wednesday night, the IMSA WeatherTech Championship teams were relieved to launch the opening practice session for the Motul Petit Le Mans started under partly cloudy conditions.
Action Express Racing led the way early with its pair of Cadillac DPi, with Felipe Albuquerque setting a 1m11.878s in the No. 5 car. Felipe Nasr then joined the party late in the session, leaping to second with a 1m12.152s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac he will share with Eric Curran and Gabby Chaves. Jordan Taylor (1m12.152s), sharing the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 this weekend with IndyCar ace Ryan Hunter Reay and Renger Van Der Zander, made it a Cadillac 1-2-3 with a 1m12.197s. Ricky Taylor was first non-Cadillac, with a 1m12.330s in the first of the Acura Team Penske Acura entries.
“I can deal with a P1 to start with!” joked Alburquerque, though he downplayed its significance. “It doesn’t really mean anything — everyone is just checking the cars. I was a bit lucky — I had just one clear lap.” But it was clearly a good one, just half a second off Helio Castroneves’ pole time here last year (1m11.314s) despite the green track.
“I am really happy with the balance,” the Portuguese driver added. “I really like this track — the coolest track in the world for me!”
In GTLM, an early lap by Dirk Muller set the pace for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, leading a 1-2 sweep for the Ford GTs in the No. 66 entry.
“We tested here a couple weeks ago so we started on a high level, but there’s a long way to go” noted Muller, whose best lap of 1m18.343s was 0.038s up on teammate Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67, and a couple of tenths ahead of the the No. 3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia in third. “There’s a lot of things to gain this weekend, but let’s see.”
In GTD, Christopher Mies topped the ties in the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi, 0.376s ahead of the No. 15 3GT Lexus of Jack Hawksworth.
The session was interrupted briefly by two red flags for cars stalled on course, although there appeared to be no major dramas with either car.
UP NEXT: Second practice at 3:15 p.m. ET.