With dark clouds looming but no precipitation, the second practice session for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta produced much closer times across the board. All the DPi cars and GTLM cars were within a second of each other by the end.
All the DPi teams were running in the 1m10s range until the last 15 minutes of the session, which were reserved for the pro classes and only DPi and GTLM were on track. In that last part of the session, first Kevin Magnussen dropped into the 1m09s in the No. 01 Ganassi Racing Cadillac. Then Felipe Nasr took the top spot with a 1m09.462s, slightly better than his fastest time of the morning session in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac, before knocking it down to 1m09.400s. But at the very end, Mazda Motorsports recovered from the electrical issue that took them out of the first practice session and Harry Tincknell, who had up to that point had the second-quickest time in the No. 55 Mazda, went to the top with a 1m09.356s.
“The car is scattered with all our best fans’ signatures and of course we want to go out on a high,” Tincknell told IMSA Radio. “We’ve had some great moments, and some unfinished business — and one of those is this weekend. I think pretty strong overall in that session. We had a little issue in FP1, hopefully we got all the bad luck out out of the way.”
Sebastien Bourdais ended up third in the session, 0.215s behind Tincknell. By the end of the session, all the cars were in the 1m09s with the exception of the No. 10 Acura and the No. 48 Cadillac.
Chevrolet stepped to the top of the GTLM times, with Nick Tandy in the No. 4 Corvette C8.R besting Kevin Estre in the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR, 1m16.938s to 1m17.020s. Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche was third, 0.226s behind his teammate.
The session had a few false starts, with three red flags interrupting the first half. The first of those was for the most serious incident, with the No. 16 Wright Motorsports GTD Porsche hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 11 with Jan Heylen at the wheel after contact with the No. 8 LMP3 car driven by John Farano. The GTD Porsche suffered heavy damage at the front that will not be a quick fix. While the team isn’t in contention for the overall championship, Heylen, Patrick Long and Trent Hindman lead the Michelin Endurance Cup standings.
The No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 once again set the fast time in GTD, this time with Robby Foley at the wheel — Bill Auberlen set the quick time in the morning. Next were the two Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC Fs, with Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 0.051s behind Foley and Frankie Montecalvo another 0.103s back. Championship contenders Laurens Vanthoor (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche) and Madison Snow (No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini) completed the top five in GTD.
Mikkel Jensen topped the LMP2 times in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. Guy Smith in the No. 22 United Autosports ORECA (-0.682s) and Ryan Dalziel in the No. 18 ERA Motorsport ORECA (-0.734s) were second and third. The No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier was the only LMP3 car to be in the top three in both sessions, going from third to second. Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 was 0.021s behind teammate Dylan Murray in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier, who turned a 1m16.413s. Josh Skelton was third in the No. 83 WIN Autosport Duqueine.
UP NEXT: A one-and-a-half hour night practice begins at 6:30 p.m. ET. Rain is expected during the session, but even if teams decide there is little to be learned by going out on the track, there are a number of drivers required to participate in the session in order to drive after dark during Saturday’s race.