Porsches posted the two fastest times in Friday morning’s opening practice session at sunny Virginia International Raceway for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge.
Lance Vanthoor overcame an off-track excursion to lead the GTLM class with a lap of 1m41.296s in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR, 0.139s faster than teammate Nick Tandy in the No. 911.
“The car felt good, and we had a good pace; that’s very important, but there’s still a lot more homework to do,” Vanthoor said. “We’ll have to see what the weather is like on Sunday. If it’s going to be dry on Sunday, and wet the rest of today and tomorrow, obviously it will have an influence on our testing and preparation. But it’s the same for everybody.”
The session was held under sunny skies and 92F temperatures. But conditions are anticipated to change throughout the weekend. There is a chance of thunderstorms for the Friday afternoon session and possibly on Saturday. Sunday is forecast to be partly sunny but at least 15 degrees cooler than Friday.
Ryan Briscoe was third, at 1m41.754s in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, followed by teammate Dirk Muller, at 1m41.626s in the No. 66. Fifth was Jan Magnussen, with a 1m41.784s in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R.
Ben Keating set the fastest GTD time at the end of the one-hour session, running 1m44.336s in the No. 33 Wynns Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. That was 0.25s faster than co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen’s best lap – which led the session up to that point.
Patrick Long was second, at 1m44.677s in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, followed by Andy Lally, at 1m44.733s in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and Jack Hawksworth, with a 1m44.778s in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
The GTD points-leading No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 had a scare at the start of the GTD session. Mario Farnbacher had trouble starting the car, with several puffs of white smoke, before the car finally fired up. Farnbacher was eighth fastest, with the team planning to diagnose the problem prior to the afternoon session.
The 60-minute session began with 15 minutes for GTLM only; then 30 minutes for all competitions; with the final 15 minutes for bronze/silver competitors in GTD.
This is the ninth of 11 races for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTLM class, and eighth of 10 points rounds for the GTD championship. It’s also the sixth of seven races counting toward the new Sprint Cup Championship for the shorter races on the calendar.
Thursday evening, Starworks Motorsport announced that it withdrew the No. 8 Vertical Bridge Audi RS LMS GT3, scheduled to be driven by Ryan Dalziel and Parker Chase. That cut the field to 13 GTD cars and 21 overall.
UP NEXT: The second practice session will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. ET, concluding WeatherTech Championship on-track activity for the day.
Saturday’s schedule includes practice 3 at 8:35 p.m., followed by qualifying beginning at 12:25 p.m. (streaming coverage available via IMSA.tv). Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge takes the green flag at 1:35 p.m. The event will be televised live on NBCSN, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.