Acura and Porsche battled for bragging rights in the first practice session of the Motul Course de Monterey for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The two Penske Porsche Motorsports 963s and the two Acura ARX-06s traded fast laps and ended up alternating at the top of the time sheet.
Matt Campbell posted the fast time of 1m16.703s, good for an average speed of 105.04mph around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Colin Braun was second in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Acura, 0.316s off Campbell’s best. Mathieu Jaminet was third at 1m17.115s in the No. 6 PPM 963, and Ricky Taylor completed the sequence in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura.
Pipo Derani was the best of the rest in the No. 31 Cadillac Racing by Action Express Racing V-Series.R, followed by the two BMWs. The top eight GTP cars were within a second.
Two of the GTP cars didn’t get much running in the session. Sebastien Bourdais crashed the No. 01 Cadillac in Turn 6, getting loose under braking as the right side tires of the V-Series.R ran over the freshly painted curbing. He caught the car, but too late, and it nosed into the tires, bringing out the first of two red flags during the session. The Ganassi crew quickly had the car in the garage and began work, the car possibly needing a new floor.
JDC-Miller Motorsports’ new Porsche 963 spent most of the session on jackstands in the pits, only doing single out-in laps, until the end. Mike Rockenfeller finally completed some consecutive laps in the final 10 minutes, with a best of 1m19.563s.
The LMP2 cars, making their first appearance since Sebring, were nearly in the same second as the fastest GTP time, Louis Deletraz taking the top spot for Tower Motorsports in the No. 8 ORECA at 1m17.897s. Deletraz put half a second on the rest of the field, Ben Hanley turning a 1m18.439s in the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA, 0.121s ahead of Ryan Dalziel in the No. 18 Era Motorsports entry.
Frankie Montecalvo topped all the GTD cars with a 1m24.796 (95.01mph) in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. GTD cars took the top three spots before the first GTD PRO car, the No. 14 Lexus in the hands of Ben Barnicoat with a 1m25.020s lap.
Seb Priaulx was second in GTD in the No. 80 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, 0.086s shy of Montecalvo, followed by Russell Ward in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG. Katherine Legge (No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22) and Bill Auberlen (No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M4) competed the top five in GTD.
Ross Gunn was the second-quickest in GTD PRO, putting the No. 23 Heart of Racing 11th overall among the GT cars at 1m25.391s. Jules Gounon was third in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG, followed by Klaus Bachler in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche. The No. 3 Corvette got limited running as the crew worked on a gearbox issue.
Several drivers used the new asphalt shoulder past the curbing at the exit of Turn 5 to a fault, losing lap times due to exceeding track limits. Cars in every class, seven in total, went wide in the spot, putting all four wheels over the white line at the edge of track.
Up Next: A 1h45m split-group practice session at 8:55 a.m. PT.