Although the Sebring concrete has seen several days of running between the World Endurance Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and Porsche Carrera Cup, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams had their first shot at the bumps on well rubbered-in track. As expected, Cadillac was on top, with Renger van der Zande quickest in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, turning a 1m46.756s in the last 20 minutes of the 90-minute session as he set several laps in the 1m46s range, the only one to do so.
Up until that point, Sebastien Bourdais had held the top time in the No. 01 Cadillac. The Acuras had lagged behind, with the AXR-05s of both the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian entry and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing car at the bottom of the scoring screen. But late in the session, the MSR car made a big gain, Tom Blomqvist setting a 1m47.514s lap to split the CGR Cadillacs. Earl Bamber set the third-fastest time in the No. 02 with a 1m47.456s lap. Other than the No. 01, all the DPi cars were in the 1m47s range.
With more time and testing and a change of scenery, the BMW contingent in GTD Pro and GTD were much more on pace than at Daytona. Nick Yelloly set a very quick time early, turning a 2m00.518s lap in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M4 GT3 that held to the end of the session. Augusto Farfus in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M4 jumped to fourth with less than two minutes left.
Daniel Serra was second quick in GTD Pro in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, 0.165s off Yelloly’s best time. Maro Engel was third in the No. 97 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT with a 2m00.907s lap.
The BMWs were quick in GTD as well, second and third on the time sheet for the session, but it was Philip Ellis in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG setting the fast time, third GTD car overall, at 2m00.907s. Ellis set the fast time early, which held even after Russ Ward had on off in the car, ending the session for the team after only 15 laps.
It was Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 with the second-fastest time, a 2m01.085s lap, followed by Erik Johansson in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW, making its debut at Sebring. The four BMWs in the GTD Pro and GTD fields were in the top seven of all GTD cars.
Louis Deletraz turned a 1m49.498s lap in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA to end the session quickest of the LMP2 field as that class begins its regular season at Sebring. Juan Pablo Montoya was second in the No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA, 0.122s back, and Giede van der Garde was third in the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA, 0.269s off Deletraz’s time.
The defending Sebring champs topped LMP3 as Colin Braun lapped at 1m56.987s in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Ligier. Rasmus Lindh was second at 1m57.123s in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier, followed by Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier that won at Daytona.
The session was stopped by two red flags, one for the No. 38 LMP3 that had stopped on course but later continued under its own power, and once for the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG crash.
UP NEXT: Second practice is a 1h40m session, split so that the Pro and Pro-Am classes each have some time on the track to themselves, starting at 2:25 p.m. Eastern.