A disjointed, multiple-red-flagged night session that saw both GTP Acuras grind to a halt on track was led by the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R with Alexander Sims at the wheel. Sims’ 1m48.420s lap was well off the times turned in qualifying simulations this afternoon, but good enough to be the first non-Acura to lead a session.
The first red flag came almost as soon as the session began for a car off course. Then the second stoppage was for Colin Braun coasting to stop, getting going again, but eventually becoming stationary until the emergency crew could retrieve the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06. As soon as they did and the session restarted, the Gradient Racing No. 66 Acura NSX lost a wheel, bringing the red back out. Then the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 stopped on course and had to be flat-towed in. The last stoppage, that almost ended the session, occurred when Kay van Berlo spun the No. 91 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3R in Turn 17, burying it in the tire barrier. The final green came with about two-and-a-half minutes left.
The stop-and-start nature of the session with greatly reduced running time could have significant impact in the race. Not only was this session important to get the right setup for the race’s finish in the dark, but nearly a third of the field needed a minimum of three laps in darkness to race after sunset on Saturday. That included Gradient Racing’s Marc Miller, who although he has raced the Twelve Hours before, it has been a few years. The No. 66 was repaired and waiting on pit lane for Miller to do his laps when the final green waved.
Nick Tandy was second quickest in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963, 0.152s shy of the Cadillac’s time. Louis Deletraz was third in the No. 10 WTR Acura before it stopped on course with a 1m49.034s lap. The No. 10 did return to the track for the final minutes, Ricky Taylor reporting that the team understands the issue that caused the car to stop on track.
A BMW was within shouting distance of the fast time for the first time today, Philip Eng lapping the No. 24 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8 within half a second of AXR’s best lap. Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac.
Josh Pierson put the No. 35 TDS Racing ORECA on top of LMP2 with a 1m51.543s, pushing Christian Rasmussen into second for the first time today. Rasmussen turned in a 1m51.842s lap in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA. Scott Huffaker was third in the No. 11 for TDS Racing, another 0.109s back.
The No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier was on top again in LMP3, this time Garret Grist putting in the fast lap of 1m56.595s instead of Dakota Dickerson. That time was nearly a second better than Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier, with Tonis Kasemets another 0.422s back for third in the No. 4 Ave Motorsports Ligier.
For the first time of the event, a GTD PRO car led GTD overall, with Jordan Taylor putting the No. 3 Corvette on top with a 2m.01.290s lap. Jack Hawksworth was second for Vasser Sullivan in the No. 14 Lexus RC F, 0.117s off Taylor’s best. Daniel Juncadella was third in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG.
Winward Racing’s Indy Dontje led GTD again with a 2m01.360s lap in the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG, second overall among the GT cars. Seb Praulx, in the No. 80 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R was 0.286 back of Dontje’s time, followed by Roman De Angelis in the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage with a 2m01.771s lap. Kyle Marcelli (No. 93 Racers Edge with WTR Acura NSX) and Kay van Berlo completed the top five.
UP NEXT: A short 10-minute practice session at 8:55am Friday, really a warm-up for qualifying which begins at 9:15am with GTD. Qualifying will be carried live on IMSA.tv.