van der Zande leads Cadillac 1-2-3 in opening Sebring practice


van der Zande leads Cadillac 1-2-3 in opening Sebring practice


van der Zande leads Cadillac 1-2-3 in opening Sebring practice


Renger van der Zande turned the fastest lap in Friday evening’s weather-delayed opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice for the Cadillac Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona winner turned a lap of 1m51.152s in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, 0.216s better than Steven Simpson in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac.

The session was delayed 90 minutes due to a thunderstorm, and once it got underway, it was mostly run in damp but drying conditions. Teams began switching to slick tires with 20 minutes remaining in the scheduled one-hour session.

“It was fun to have a nice Florida shower, but actually it was way too wet to go out,” van der Zande said. “Once we were running it dried very quickly. We went to slicks early, to get to know how the track behaves in these conditions, because we might get some wet weather tomorrow.”

The red flag waved to bring the session to a premature halt with eight minutes remaining when three cars went off track. Rob Ferriol went off in the Turn 7 hairpin. Moments later, Joao Barbosa went straight off without contact in the same location in the No. 5 Action Express/JDC Miller Cadillac. The third strike came for an off by Rob Foley in Turn 13 driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

Felipe Nasr celebrated his return to competition by setting the top lap at the midway point, 1m55.582s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. The Brazilian was sent to the sidelines after testing positive for COVID-19 on the eve of IMSA’s Fourth of July return at Daytona International Raceway. The Action Express team followed IMSA protocol, and Nasr’s return was cleared on Thursday following his second-consecutive negative test.

Nasr’s co-driver Pipo Derani went quicker in the closing minutes, third overall at 1m52.596, followed by Team Penske drivers Ricky Taylor and Dane Cameron. Best of the Mazdas was Jonathan Bomarito, 4.774s back in the Daytona 240-winning No. 55 Mazda DPi.

Gustavo Menezes paced LMP2 in the Rolex 24-winning No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 07, seventh overall at 1m55.897s.
Laurens Vanthoor put Porsche atop GTLM in the closing minutes, 1m59.501s in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19. Prior to that lap, Corvette Racing ran 1-2 for most of the session. Jordan Taylor wound up second, .754s back in the Daytona 240-winning No. 3 Corvette C8.R, with Oliver Gavin 1.512s back in the No. 4 Corvette.

Paul Holton paced GTD, 2m06.012s in the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3, followed by Daytona 240 winner Jack Hawksworth, -.455s in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, and Andy Lally, -.989s in the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

All but one of the 29 entries participated in the session, with the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA-Gibson of Cameron Cassels and Kyle Masson opting to remain in the paddock due to the track conditions.

UP NEXT: Saturday opens with practice from 10-11:15 p.m. ET, with 15-minute qualifying sessions beginning at 1:55 p.m. for GTD, GTLM and combined DPi-LMP2. The Cadillac Grand Prix is set to take the green flag at 5:35 p.m.