Mid-Ohio has been an Acura stronghold throughout the DPi era, and in Friday’s first practice for the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio, the fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, indications are that nothing has changed.
Filipe Albuquerque set the quickest time of the session with a 1m11.828s lap in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06, he and Ricky Taylor picking up right where they left off at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago.
“The momentum is good as we’re still celebrating from Laguna with Mid-Ohio being so close,” said Albuquerque before the session. “We’re in a great spot in the championship. Mid-Ohio was a great one for us last year, so it would be ideal for us to continue that streak. The motivation is high in the team, and we have a chance to go for the win. Ricky, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 team and I will do our best to go for another win. But we know that the competition is hard. So, we will see if we can minimize our mistakes and make the perfect lap in qualifying because you can control the race better from P1 there.”
Tom Blomqvist, in the other Acura in the DPi field, the Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian No. 60, was second-quickest with a 1m11.904s time, a scant 0.076s difference. Earl Bamber in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing machine was the quickest of the Cadillac drivers, just over half a second off Albuquerque’s time. Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac had held third position until Bamber nipped him by 0.027s late in the session. Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 CGR Cadillac and Tristan Vautier in the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac brought up the rear.
Ryan Dalziel topped the LMP2 timesheets with a 1m13.478s lap in the Era Motorsport ORECA, an average speed of 110.63mph. Dalziel was 0.407s clear of Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, who in turn was more than half a second quicker than Will Stevens int he No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA.
LMP3 is making its first appearance in a sprint race this season, and Colin Braun made the first mark at 1m17.603s in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Ligier. Garret Grist in the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier was only 0.011s shy of Braun’s time, with Felipe Fraga third in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier at 1m18.013s.
The GTD drivers are enjoying a weekend as the only GT cars on track, with GTD Pro on hiatus until the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in late June. Robby Foley used that to his advantage to set the fastest lap in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT3, with an average lap speed of just over 100mph, a time of 1m21.220s. Lexus has done well at Mid-Ohio with the Vasser-Sullivan RC F GT3s, and Jack Hawksworth had the second-quickest GTD time at 1m21.428s in the No. 17. Hawksworth normally runs GTD PRO with Ben Barnicoat, but Lexus added a second GTD car for this event, pairing Richard Heistand with Hawksworth.
Bryan Sellers was third in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW at 1m21.649s. Aaron Telitz in the No. 12 Vasser-Sullivan Lexus and Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R rounded out the top five.
The session was interrupted by a red flag early when Jarett Andretti’s No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier LMP3 stopped on the course, and was later ended by a red flag with a bit over three minutes left when Brendan Iribe in the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GTD car and Lance Willsey in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier LMP3 car had contact entering the Carousel, with the LMP3 car ending in the gravel and the McLaren stopping on course.
UP NEXT: The teams have one more opportunity to get the cars and drivers dialed in before qualifying, a 1h45m practice session beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern on Saturday.