Team Penske Acuras Get Early Jump in Opening IMSA WeatherTech Practice at Road America
In their drive to win for the first time in 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, the Acuras of Team Penske set the pace in Friday’s opening practice session of the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America.
Ricky Taylor posted the fastest lap of the one-hour session on the historic 4.048-mile permanent road course, one minute, 50.654 seconds (131.696 mph), in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi. Following closely behind was the No. 6 Acura, with Dane Cameron clocking a lap of 1:50.929 (131.370 mph).
Cameron and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya are the reigning WeatherTech Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) champions, but a Team Penske Acura hasn’t visited victory lane since last September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, when Cameron and Montoya led a 1-2 finish ahead of Taylor and Helio Castroneves.
Taylor felt confident that Friday’s session at Road America shows promise for the weekend, but he also knows there’s a long way to go with the Cadillacs and Mazdas nipping at their heels in DPi. The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. was third in practice at 1:50.939 (131.358 mph), with Renger van der Zende at the wheel.
“The car feels really good,” Taylor said. “Hopefully as the track starts to rubber up, those little balance issues will come to us. But so far, we’re pretty happy.
“It’s nice to get a result in practice. We always seem to show good speed here at Road America. We just need to translate it to a race win, hopefully. … The (No.) 7 car really needs to get back to winning. I think all the pieces are in place. We just need to do it on track. I think it’s one of those cases where once we get that breakthrough and get the monkey off our back and we’ll be in a good place.”
Meanwhile, in the Le Mans Prototype 2 class (LMP2), Simon Trummer was quick with a lap of 1:53.381 (128.529 mph) in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07. Ben Hanley put the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA in second, at 1:53.515 (128.377 mph).
In GT Le Mans (GTLM) practice, the Porsche GT Team tossed down the early gauntlet, collecting the top two positions. Nick Tandy, co-driving the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with Frederic Makowiecki, led the class with a lap of 2:01.492 (119.948 mph). Laurens Vanthoor, driving the sister No. 912 Porsche with Earl Bamber, was second at 2:01.583 (119.858 mph).
Veteran favorite Bill Auberlen led the GT Daytona (GTD) practice session with a lap of 2:06.822 (114.907 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. Teaming with Robby Foley, Auberlen is still chasing his next win that would give him 61 and break a tie with Scott Pruett for the most in IMSA history.
Patrick Long ran second in GTD practice at 2:07.642 (114.169 mph) in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R that he shares with Ryan Hardwick.
A final WeatherTech Championship practice begins at 9:55 a.m. ET Saturday, followed by qualifying to decide the starting grid for the fourth race of the season at 2:50 p.m. ET Saturday. Qualifying streams live on IMSA.TV beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.
The two-hour, 40-minute race airs live at noon ET Sunday on NBC.
Archangel Porsche Soars to Top of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Leaderboard at Road America
Day One is in the books for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road America and it was the bright, neon yellow No. 7 Archangel Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport that turned the quickest lap of the day.
Trent Hindman – who with co-driver Alan Brynjolfsson is coming off a third-place finish at Sebring International Raceway two weeks ago – posted the quickest lap of Grand Sport (GS) race cars around the 4.048-mile circuit at two minutes, 17.090 seconds (106.300 mph) during the first of two practice sessions on the day.
Hindman’s flyer was just 0.068 seconds quicker than that of defending race winner Robin Liddell in the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. Liddell’s time came during Practice 2 and the Scot will share driving duties with Frank DePew.
In the Touring Car (TCR) class, the margin was slightly larger between the top-performing cars. Mat Pombo in the No. 73 L.A. Honda World Honda Civic TCR brought his car to life with a fastest lap time of 2:21.029 (103.331 mph).
Pombo’s Honda, which he co-drives with Mike LaMarra, was 0.452 seconds ahead of the second-fastest time of the day claimed by the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai TCR of Michael Lewis and co-driver Mason Filippi. Both flying laps were posted during the second session of the day.
Stephen Simpson led the way in TCR during the first practice in the No. 54 JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS that he shares with Michael Johnson, posting a time of 2:21.715.
The two-hour Road America 120 goes green at 4:45 p.m. ET Saturday, and can be streamed live, flag-to-flag, on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The field will qualify at 9 a.m. ET Saturday before Round 3 of the season gets underway.
Grant Storms to Pole Position for IMSA Prototype Challenge Race at Road America
David Grant saved his best effort for when it counted on Friday, snatching the pole position in qualifications for Saturday’s IMSA Prototype Challenge race at Road America with a lap nearly two seconds better than he or teammate Keith Grant achieved in two earlier practices.
David Grant turned a best lap of 2:02.930 in the No. 40 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30 to take qualifying honors by more than eight-tenths of a second over the competition.
“The car was fantastic all weekend, and we just finally got a clear lap,” David Grant said. “That’s what it really came down to. We’ve had a lot of time on the car and the Forty7 Motorsports team did a great job getting it together.”
The best lap during the two practice sessions for the No. 40 was 2:04.911, good only for 10th among the 13 entries in the Prototype Challenge field. That, though, was by design, according to the polesitter.
“We worked in practice a lot on setup,” David Grant said. “We weren’t trying to put a good lap together earlier. We were kind of just trying to make sure where we knew we had to get better, we worked on the car today and we got it there. It was easy to do once we got it there.”
And, Grant warned, there may be more to come.
“The car, I think, has more in it,” he said. “I don’t think I got fast enough in the car.”
Naveen Rao qualified second in the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma with a lap of 2:03.750 around the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course. He and teammate Matthew Bell lead the Prototype Challenge standings after two races in which they’ve finished on the podium.
Saturday’s one-hour, 45-minute race starts at 11:35 a.m. ET and streams live on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold.
Kingsley Earns First Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Pole
In qualifying for the 2020 season-opening weekend for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Jeff Kingsley earned his first pole position in the series while making his debut with Kelly-Moss Road and Race in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
“It was a hot session out there, for sure, but we got it up front which I’m very thankful for,” said Kingsley. “It was a bit difficult, but we made it in the end. The car felt great, the guys did a really good job here at Kelly-Moss Road and Race, so I’m very happy with that. Obviously, it’s going to be a tough race. I haven’t seen the times myself, but I heard it’s pretty close. It’s definitely going to be a good race (Saturday). We’ll see what happens in the day.”
The times were pretty close indeed. Kingsley’s qualifying time of two minutes, 10.920 seconds (111.310 mph) barely nipped the time posted by Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipient Riley Dickinson by a scant 0.087 seconds. Dickinson will start alongside Kingsley in the No. 53 Porsche for Moorespeed.
Starting third and topping the Platinum Masters Class will be Alan Metni in the No. 99 Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsports Porsche. Metni’s best career finish in the series was an overall runner-up result at Road America last year.
Leading the Gold class to green will be Efrin Castro in the No. 65 TPC Racing Porsche with a qualifying lap of 2:14.273. Castro’s time was 0.67 seconds quicker than Curt Swearingin in the No. 17 Porsche for ACI Motorsports.
The first 45-minute race of the season is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday, with Race 2 set for Sunday at 10 a.m. Both races can be streamed live, flag-to-flag on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary.