Acura Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves got his hopes for a long-sought championship in his final race for the Penske organization off to a strong start Thursday morning, as he set the fastest lap in the opening practice session for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Castroneves turned a lap of 1m49.360s in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi, edging out Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC Cadillac by +0.035s, and Matheus Leist in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports by +0.468s. The eight-car DPi field was covered by .977s.
Castroneves and co-driver Ricky Taylor enter the finale only two points ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing co-drivers Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, 242-240.
The Porsche GT Team – making its final scheduled start in GTLM – ran 1-2 with its No. 911 and No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19s. Fred Makowiecki led the class with a lap of 1m58.717s, up 0.374s on teammate Laurens Vanthoor. Third was Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M8 GT3, +0.395s, followed by Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette C8.R, +0.900s.
Jack Hawksworth paced GTD in the No. 14 AVS Lexus RC F GT3, at 2m02.961s. Second by +0.327s, was Patrick Long in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, followed by Townsend Bell, +0.421s in the No. 12 Lexus and Andrew Davis, +0.457s in the No. 30 Team Hardpoint Audi R8 LMS GT3. Twelve of the 13 GTD cars were within 1.108s.
In LMP2, Simon Trummer ran 1m52.040s to set the pace in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports LMP2 07-Gibson, 0.986s ahead of Matthew Bell in the No. 51 Inter Europol Competition ORECA, and +1.149s ahead of David Heinemeier Hansson in the No. 8 Tower Motorsports by Starworks ORECA.
With Tropical Storm Eta crossing to the north of Florida, conditions were 79 degrees under breezy conditions and a partly cloudy sky.
UP NEXT: Practice 2 at 2:35 p.m. ET.