Title hopeful Renger van der Zande prevailed in a late-session charge in Thursday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship second practice for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
With the top four positions on the DPi chart switching places throughout the closing minutes, van der Zande came out quickest at 1m47.478s in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. He and co-driver Ryan Briscoe enter the season finale trailing by only two points in the standings.
“Not too bad for a driver without a job,” said van der Zande. “This is a special weekend, my last race with Wayne Taylor Racing, and it’s fantastic to be in the car with Scott [Dixon] again — every time he shows up we win. I think we have a good shot at winning this weekend, that’s our main goal, and the Endurance Championship as well. Winning the DPi title would be a dream come true. Today didn’t go so well – we had a gearbox issue – but somehow we got it fixed just before the beginning of the session. I got in at the end for a new tire run, and I was fastest.”
Sebastien Bourdais came up +0.167s short in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R, followed by Pipo Derani, +0.763s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, and Oliver Jarvis, +0.857s in the No. 77 Mazda RT-24P.
The point-leading No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves was fifth, +0.980s with Alexander Rossi at the wheel.
The 75-minute practice started in light rain, the remnants of Tropical Storm Eta, but the track quickly dried out with temperatures of 80 degrees.
Mikkel Jensen led the four-car LMP2 field, running 1m51.667s in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA LMP2 07-Gibson. Next was Simon Trummer, +0.264s in the No. PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA.
Rolling out a pair of brightly colored Porsche 911 RSR-19s for its scheduled farewell to the GTLM class, the Porsche Racing Team went 1-2 for the second consecutive session. Laurens Vanthoor was fastest, at 1m57.975s in the No. 912, followed by Fred Makowiecki, +0.197s in the No. 911. Earl Bamber will share time in both of the team cars.
“This is a program I really loved to do, and it’s coming to the end with the last race,” Vanthoor said. “We had a good-bye ceremony last night. It’s cool to be part of it, but we’re racing here, trying to go out with a bang. I haven’t won this race yet, so this could be my last chance to do it in the top GT class.”
Jordan Taylor was third in GTLM, +0.469s in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R, followed by Jesse Krohn, +0.631 in the No. 24 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE.
In GTD, Steijn Schothorst was fastest in the return of the GRT Grasser Racing Team, 2m2.352s in the No. 11 Orange1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Bryan Sellers was second, +0.098s back in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, followed by Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3.R. The top 10 cars were separated by 1.022s.
The session was red-flagged at the 30-minute mark for the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA of John Farano, who lost drive on the back straight and brought about a stoppage of five minutes.
The No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Central Spine ORECA was damaged in an incident late in opening practice with Patrick Byrne at the wheel. The car was repaired in time for the full afternoon session.
The session opened with 15 minutes for bronze- and silver-rated drivers. Patrick Kelly was fastest of the Pro-Am competitors in LMP2, 1m53.287s in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07-Gibson. Heylen led GTD, 2m2.478s, +0.113s ahead of Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Luxus RCF GT3.
UP NEXT: Night practice, a 90-minute session beginning at 6:15 p.m.