Race Weekend Central

Sebastien Bourdais Quickest in Petit Le Mans Practice

In the closing minutes of the second practice session Thursday (Sept. 29), Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais turned in a lap at 132.445 mph to lead the pack in practice for the 25th annual Motul Petit Le Mans.  It capped off a day in which the Cadillacs showed strength.

Practice No. 1

Teams had to deal with a fair amount of wind Thursday morning for the opening practice session for the Motul Petit Le Mans.  When the session was complete, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Earl Bamber was fastest overall with a lap at 131.411 mph.

Bamber’s lap was a third of a second faster than the Acura of Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Tom Blomqvist.  Bourdais was third, then Action Express Racing teammates Pipo Derani and Kamui Kobayashi.

LMP2 saw Tower Motorsport’s Louis Deletraz lead the way with a lap at 128.211 mph, good for eighth overall.  Deletraz’s lap was .188 seconds faster than DragonSpeed’s Sebastian Montoya.  Era Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel was third fastest, less than three-tenths off of Deletraz.  PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Tristan Nunez and High Class Racing’s Anders Fjordbach were fourth and fifth.

In LMP3, CORE autosport’s Colin Braun was fastest with a lap at 120.831 mph, 14th overall.  Braun’s lap was a mere .015 seconds faster than Riley Motorsports’ Felipe Fraga.  Jr III Racing’s Garret Grist was a full second behind Fraga in third, then Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s Matt Bell and Andretti Autosport’s Gabby Chaves.

In the GT ranks, VasserSullivan’s Jack Hawksworth was fastest of all GT runners and quickest in GTD Pro with a lap at 115.187 mph, good for 22nd overall.  Hawksworth’s lap was .426 seconds faster than the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche of Matt Campbell.  Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra was third in his Ferrari, then BMW M Team RLL’s John Edwards and Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia.

Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers was quickest in GTD with a lap at 115.019 mph, second of all GT drivers and .116 seconds slower than Hawksworth.  His lap was nine-hundredths of a second quicker than NTe Sport’s Jaden Conwright in his Lamborghini.  Winward Racing’s Russell Ward was third, then VasserSullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo and Wright Motorsports’ Jan Heylen.

There was one red flag period during the 90-minute session.  Just past the one-hour mark, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Scott Huffaker spun in the Esses and backed into the tire barrier.  He was able to walk away, but the No. 52 ORECA 07-Gibson was damaged significantly.

Ben Keating told Frontstretch after the session that the team was still assessing the damage.  Huffaker was apparently caught out by a change in wind direction on cold tires.  He’s upset because it’s the first time that he’s crashed the car in the two years that he’s raced it and he hates that he hurt the team.  Keating indicates that they will race regardless of whether the crashed car can be fixed on-site because the team has a backup car “across the street.”

Outside of the red flag, there were a couple of spins for Era Motorsport’s Dwight Merriman, along with single spins for Turner Motorsport’s Michael Dinan and Hardpoint’s Katherine Legge.  None of these spins caused any session interruptions.

IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP MOTUL PETIT LE MANS PRACTICE NO. 1 RESULTS

Practice No. 2

The afternoon session was the split practice session.  The first 15 minutes were dedicated to Pro-Am drivers only.  After a 75-minute “all skate” period, the final 15 minutes of the session is where the big boys come out to play and don’t have to worry about slower cars with drivers with less experience.

For much of the session, the two Ganassi Cadillacs and Action Express Racing’s No. 31 traded the top spot.  Renger van der Zande put down a lap at 130.168 mph that held up for an hour.

Then came the final 15 minutes.  Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor put himself on top of the chart, only to get usurped by Blomqvist.  Finally, with under a minute to go, Bourdais topped everyone with the quick lap of the session.

Bourdais’ lap was three-tenths of a second faster than Blomqvist.  Kobayashi was third fastest, then JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Tristan Vautier and Derani.

Dalziel was quickest in LMP2 with a lap at 127.610 mph, eighth overall.  His lap was a third of a second faster than DragonSpeed’s Juan Pablo Montoya.  Fjordbach was four-thousandths of a second behind Juan Pablo in third, followed by Tower Motorsport’s Rui Andrade.  PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Josh Pierson was fifth.

In regards to PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ No. 52, the team was able to get the car fixed to go out during the session.  A number of rear-end parts had to be replaced on the car.  It also had a new engine cover that had not yet been wrapped in the Wynn’s colors.  The team only turned in a couple of laps with Mikkel Jensen at the wheel to shake the chassis down.

There was one red flag roughly 70 minutes into the session.  Andrade got loose in turn 1, corrected, then slid off-course, went through a gravel trap and nosed into the tire barrier.  The car had some damage and had to be pulled away from the tires.  Andrade was ok.

Riley Motorsports’ Kay van Berlo was fastest in LMP3 with a lap at 121.002 mph.  The lap was .229 seconds faster than Chaves, with Grist and Bell in third and fourth.  Sean Creech Motorsport’s Malthe Jakobsen was fifth fastest.

In the GT ranks, Hawksworth was again fastest, this time with a lap at 115.876 mph that was set in the closing minutes of the session.  Hawksworth’s lap was .645 seconds faster than BMW M Team RLL’s John Edwards, who led the GTD Pro class for most of the session.  Garcia was third fastest, then Serra and The Heart of Racing’s Alex Riberas.

VasserSullivan’s Richard Heistand was fastest in GTD with a lap at 114.510 mph, fourth fastest of all GT cars.  Heistand’s lap was a mere six-thousandths of a second faster than the BMW of Paul Miller Racing’s Erik Johansson.  Ward was third once again, then Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Stevan McAleer.  Cetilar Racing’s Ulysse de Pauw was fifth in his Ferrari.

IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP MOTUL PETIT LE MANS PRACTICE NO. 2 RESULTS

Practice No. 3

The night session Thursday is the final practice of the weekend for WeatherTech teams.  Drivers had to traverse the 2.54-mile road course in the dark to get attuned to the conditions for Saturday night.

At the end of 90 minutes, Bamber was once again fastest with a lap at 130.853 mph, the only driver to turn in a lap under 70 seconds.  Bamber’s lap was .123 seconds faster than Vautier.  Van der Zande was third quickest, then Derani and Kobayashi in a Cadillac sweep of the top five.

Things weren’t all rosy for Cadillac, though.  Van der Zande brought out the session’s only red flag 39 minutes in when his right rear wheel came off the car in turn 7, likely due to a loose wheel nut.  He had to sit there until the safety crew could come and tow the car back to the pits.

In LMP2, Deletraz was fastest in his repaired car with a lap at 129.495 mph, good for eighth overall, but less than three-quarters of a second slower than Bamber.  Deletraz’s best lap was .739 seconds faster than Dalziel.  Jensen got PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ No. 52 up to third in class after the earlier repairs.  Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth, while Nunez was fifth.

Chaves was quickest in LMP3 with a lap at 120.271 mph.  The lap was .036 seconds quicker than Fraga and a little more than a tenth of a second faster than Braun.  JrIII Racing’s Nolan Siegel was fourth, while Jakobsen was fifth.

In the GT ranks, VasserSullivan’s No. 12 Lexus for Aaron Telitz topped the GTD class and was the fastest of all GT drivers with a lap at 114.828 mph.  The lap was .183 seconds quicker than Sellers.  The Ferrari of AF Corse’s Toni Vilander was third fastest, followed by the McLaren of Inception Racing’s Sebastian Priaulx.  Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley was fifth.

In GTD Pro, Risi Competizione’s James Calado was fastest in his Ferrari with a lap at 114.804 mph, just .017 seconds slower than Telitz.  Calado’s lap was .218 seconds faster than Hawksworth.  WeatherTech Racing’s Maximilian Goetz was third in his Mercedes, then The Heart of Racing’s Tom Gamble.  Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor was fifth fastest.

IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP MOTUL PETIT LE MANS PRACTICE NO. 3 RESULTS

Unlike in past years, WeatherTech teams will only get three practices prior to qualifying instead of four.  As a result, the next time that teams will be on-track will be for qualifying.  That is scheduled to begin at 3:40 p.m. ET Friday afternoon after the completion of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge FOX Factory 120.  The session will be streamed live starting at 3:35 p.m. ET on both IMSA.com and Peacock.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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