Corvette, Lamborghini Pace WeatherTech Championship Practice For Michelin GT Challenge At VIRginia International Raceway
Friday, August 26, 2016

Corvette Racing took bragging rights in 95-degree heat during the opening day of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice Friday at VIRginia International Raceway, leading practice for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge (live, FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET).

Antonio Garcia led the GT Le Mans (GTLM) competitors, turning a lap of 1:42.623 (114.7 mph) on the recently repaved 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R co-driven by Jan Magnussen. Second, 0.077 seconds back, was Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT at 1:42.700 (114.6 mph), with the nine GTLM competitors separated by a mere 0.816 seconds.

“All the work we’ve done between Road America and now definitely has helped,” Garcia said. “All the testing we have done has improved things. The new surface here at VIR is very nice. We are already going faster here than we ever have. It’s a nice improvement from last year, even though it is super-hot today. In normal conditions, I would think it would be mega. But for today, I’m very happy with the track and our Corvette.”

Three-time 2016 winner Ryan Briscoe was third with a lap of 1:42.779 (114.5 mph) in the No. 67 Ford GT, followed by 2014 VIR winner Giancarlo Fisichella in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at 143.117 (114.1 mph). The points-leading No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Tommy  Milner and Oliver Gavin was sixth with a best lap of 1:48.181 (114.0 mph).

Paul Miller Racing led both sessions in GT Daytona (GTD) in the No. 48 Castrol Edge/Universal Industrial Sales Lamborghini Huracán GT3. After Madison Snow paced the morning hour with a lap of 1:45.722 (111.3 mph), teammate Bryan Sellers led the afternoon session with a late lap of 1:44.944 (112.1 mph).

“There is a long way left, but we are doing everything we can right now to check off all of the boxes,” Sellers said. “We are in good shape. We focused on race prep in the afternoon session in the heat, and we are pretty pleased with where we are. It’s always going to be a battle, we’re not 100 percent, but we are really close. We are going to go back, debrief, get our heads straight and reload for tomorrow and hopefully keep this trend going for the rest of the weekend.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen was second with a lap of 1:45.109 (111.9 mph) in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports ViperExchange.com/Cruising with the Money Dodge Viper GT3-R co-driven by Ben Keating. Corey Lewis was third fastest, running 145.179 (111.9 mph) in the No. 16 Change Racing Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3. The GTD field was separated by 1.079 seconds.

NOTEBOOK

  • Dirk Werner had a scare in the opening WeatherTech Championship practice session when the roof suddenly popped off the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM while he was negotiating Turn 6. Werner continued to the pits while safety crews returned the missing bodywork.

“It felt like somebody was pulling on my helmet cooler – which is attached to the roof – and the roof came off moments later,” Werner said. “Fortunately it went right back on with no problems. That was the first time that happened to me – hopefully, the last time.”

  • The combination of GTD moving to international GT3 specifications for 2016 and the track repaving resulted in all 12 cars in the class topping James Davison’s two-year-old track record of 1:47.660 (109.344 mph).
  • Saturday’s schedule includes WeatherTech Championship qualifying at 11:55 a.m. ET., followed by Round 8 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship at 1:55 p.m. Final WeatherTech Championship practice begins at 8 a.m. Activities also include races for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo at 10:45 a.m., and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama at 5:10 p.m.

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