SEBRING, Fla. – Here’s a mix of news and nuggets from the ground at Sebring International Raceway, ahead of this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has run two practice sessions, prior to night practice this evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. ET and local time.
Meanwhile, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has qualified and the Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama have run their first races of the year.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
- Action Express Racing led both afternoon sessions. Dane Cameron’s 1:52.447 lap in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP was the fastest overall. Other class leaders in the morning were Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 (PC), Dirk Werner in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R (GTD).
- The No. 5 Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi was fastest in the afternoon at 1:53.850; times slowed as the heat increased. CORE also led in PC with Mark Wilkins, with Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM) and Mathias Lauda in the No. 98 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 (GTD) were other class leaders.
- In the third and final session, the 90-minute night practice, Action Express completed a Thursday practice session sweep. Filipe Albuquerque posted a 1:52.832 near the end of the session in the No. 5 car which was fastest by more than a second over the No. 55 Mazda Prototype, driven by Jonathan Bomarito. Braun completed a CORE practice sweep in PC, with Lucas Luhr top of GTLM in the No. 100 BMW and Bleekemolen again in the GTD lead. Bleekemolen’s best time of 2:03.417 was quicker than his pole time last year, which was a 2:03.485 lap.
- The big story out of night practice was an accident for John Pew in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, in an odd accident where the car snapped right. Pew was evaluated and released from the infield care center but the Shank crew – not for the first time – has a long night of work ahead.
- First and second session times are linked in this bullet point.
- Add Jan Heylen and Ryan Lewis to the list of those competing this weekend, both in last minute call-ups. Heylen will be a fourth driver with the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R along with Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Matt McMurry, while Lewis steps in for Tomy Drissi in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 alongside Johnny Mowlem, Marc Drumwright and Don Yount.
- Scott Dixon is expected to head to France next week for his simulator test ahead of his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All Le Mans rookies are required to pass the simulator test prior to racing at Circuit de la Sarthe – even if you’re a four-time and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion.
- Cameron Lawrence hopes to have more races with Alegra Motorsports, which premieres the workhorse Riley-BMW DP this weekend. The team may continue with the car past this week in Sebring.
- Both Stephen Simpson (JDC/Miller Motorsports) and Sean Johnston (Starworks Motorsport) like the electronic updates that have come to PC, with Simpson being particularly praiseworthy of the Motec system. Simpson seeks his second straight win after co-driving with Kenton Koch, Chris Miller and Misha Goikhberg to victory at Daytona.
- Continental Tire helped Starworks get back to Sebring after Starworks had its transporter stolen last month. More here from Sportscar365.
- Wednesday, IMSA took an all-car shot. It’s cool. It’s the lead image on this post.
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
- Scott Maxwell (GS) and Tyler Cooke (ST) made it two non-Porsches that won pole positions in the heavily Porsche populated Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Maxwell co-drives the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C with Billy Johnson; Cooke co-drives the No. 84 Bimmerworld BMW 328i with James Clay. Qualifying results are linked here.
IMSA Development and Single-Make Series
- Clark Toppe, who was the only other driver besides Kenton Koch to win in Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires competition last year, won Thursday’s season opener ahead of Pato O’Ward and Austin Versteeg. O’Ward raced last weekend in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, where he won the first of two races. Results are linked here.
- Jesse Lazare, who returns to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama this season, won the first race of that season. Results are linked here.
- The IMSA North American Cup was announced Thursday, which will see joint races for Porsche’s USA and Canadian GT3 series at the Canadian Grand Prix weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve June 10-12 and at Watkins Glen International June 30-July 2. You saw the U.S. name ahead and the Canadian series is called the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Yokohama. More here from IMSA’s website.