Less than five days after taking the checkered flag for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams began practice at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in preparation for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix presented by Acura.
Colin Braun turned in the fastest lap of the 60-minute session with a 1m5.876s in the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P217. Second-fastest was the Watkins Glen-winning Team Joest Mazda RT-24P of Jonathan Bomarito at 1m6.295s, followed by Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 with a 1m6.341s.
“Obviously, it was a good practice for us,” Braun said. “We were quick here last year in all the practices and won the race. For me personally, it’s a track I really enjoy. I think Jon [Bennett] does too.
“Whenever you come to a track with confidence it sets the tone for the whole weekend. Certainly we haven’t the results I feel like we deserved in a lot of these races. I feel like we’ve been in the mix and everyone’s been doing a really good job as a team with what we can control and executing really well. We just need to get a little luck and momentum going on our side; hopefully this is the start of that. This is a good confidence boost, I think.”
The Porsche GT Team is riding a four-race winning streak, and opened the weekend by running 1-2 in GT Le Mans.
Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet began the streak at Sebring in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR and won the most recent race at Watkins Glen International. In between, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor won at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio in the No. 911 RSR. The two combinations lead the GTLM standings, with the 912 combination holding a one point advantage; 152-151.
On Friday morning, Bamber ran a lap of 1m14.560s in the No. 912 to lead Tandy by 0.097s.
“That was only the first practice, and everybody’s doing their own program,” Vanthoor said. “We went through ours, and we’ve shown the last couple of years that we’re always strong here. It seems to be again that way, but it’s early in the weekend. After qualifying, we’ll know for sure. Watkins Glen wasn’t a good weekend for us, it cost us the lead in the championship, but it’s be good to be right back here. We’ll try to better this weekend.”
Conor De Phillippi was third in the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTLM, followed by Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ganassi Racing Ford GT and Marcel Fassler in the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R.
In GT Daytona, Jeroen Bleekemolen was fastest at 1m16.885s in the No. 33 Wynns Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports entry, followed by the Lamborghini Huracan GT3s of Andy Lally’s 1m16.898s in the No. 44 Magnus Racing entry, and Bryan Sellers, who ran 1m17.189s in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing entry.
Kyle Masson led LMP2 with a lap of 1m9.006s in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA Gibson.
The session ran incident-free. The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R experienced clutch problems during the session, although Pipo Derani was fourth-fastest at 1m6.458s.
NEXT UP: The second one-hour practice session begins at 4:10 p.m. Saturday includes final practice at 8 a.m., with qualifying beginning at 11:35 a.m. Sunday’s race takes the green flag at 1:05 p.m. for two hours, 40 minutes of racing.