Harry Tincknell put Mazda Team Joest atop the scoring chart in Friday morning’s opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International.
Tincknell turned an unofficial track-record lap of 1m30.690s on the Glen’s 3.4-mile Long Circuit to lead the session in the No. 55 Mazda RT-24P co-driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Olivier Pla.
“This is one of the best races of the season,” Tincknell said. “We have to recalibrate what’s fast and what’s slow when you come to The Glen, because there’s so much grip. It’s a crazy place, an awesome track. The RT-24P is working really well. We tested here a month or so ago, and we’ve been working hard in between. We’ve laid down a base setup that seems to be really strong. Long way to go, but early signs are good.”
Acura Team Penske took the next two positions. Helio Castroneves was second in the No. 7 Acura ARX-05, followed by Dane Cameron in the No. 6 Acura that won the two most record WeatherTech Championship races. Fourth was Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Nissan Ligier JS P217 DPi, followed by Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V-R.
The session was briefly red-flagged at the 20-minute mark when Chris Miller stopped in the No. 84 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac prior to the Inner Loop, and then an incident in Turn 5 ended the pro portion of the session with two minutes remaining. Will Hardeman hit the barrier in the No.19 Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS GT3, resulting in the car briefly catching fire. The resulting red flag also scrubbed the 15-minute Silver-Bronze opportunity for the GTD competitors.
The Chip Ganassi Ford GTs finished 1-2 in GT LM. Richard Westbrook led the class with a 1m42.673s in the No. 67 Ford, putting him 0.043s faster than teammate Dirk Muller in the No. 66. Tommy Milner was third in the No. 4 Corvette, followed by Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR. The BMW M8 GTLMs of Jesse Krohn (No. 24) and Connor De Phillippi (No. 25) took the next two positions.
“We didn’t expect to be one and two in this sesson,” Westbrook said. “We know how tough it was for us to win here last year, and now we’re a lot heavier with a lot less power. But it’s a new tire for everyone, and maybe we’ve gotten on top of that tire better than our competitors. Michelin did a real nice job, and it really felt good, with good balance.
“This is my favorite track; I’ve won here three times, lots of poles, and I’ve been blown away by it since my first time here.”
The No. 911 Porsche went behind the wall after Patrick Pilet completed only four laps with a power steering issue. The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia also made a trip to the garage with a mechanical problem after three laps.
New York native Andy Lally was fastest of the GTD competitors. The four-time class winner in the event ran 1m45.406s in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 co-driven by John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly. Second was the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen, followed by Dirk Werner in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Early in the GTD session, Patrick Long pitted with the No. 73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 R smoking heavily.
“We’ve got three more practice sessions for the Park Place boys to put it all together,” said co-driver Patrick Lindsey.
Gabriel Aubry was fastest of the two LMP2 entries, running 1m34.373s in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Gibson.
UP NEXT: Practice two is set for Friday afternoon, with the one-hour session beginning at 3:05 p.m. ET