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Simpson Paces Opening Practice at Sebring

Stephen Simpson set the pace in the first practice at Sebring…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Stephen Simpson paced opening practice in the JDC-Miller Motorpsorts Oreca 07 Gibson in the first on-track session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ahead of the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday.

Simpson’s top time of 1:49.516 was set halfway through the hour-long session, and put him just 0.041 seconds clear of Christian Fittipaldi’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R which clocked the second fastest time in the Prototype class.

Mike Conway got the sister No. 31 Action Express Cadillac into third, while Jose Gutierrez clocked the fourth fastest lap of practice in the the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

The pair of Mazdas RT24-P machines driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Joel Miller rounded out the top-six, which was separated by just over 1 second.

Porsche took the top spot in GT Le Mans on the strength of a 1:57.109-lap from Fred Makowiecki with just seven minutes to go in the session in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.

The Frenchman edged the Scott Dixon-driven No. 67 Ford GT by just 0.057 seconds, with Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford in third.

Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers was fastest in GT Daytona in his No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, coming in 0.009 seconds ahead of Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3.

The top four cars in GTD were covered by less than one tenth of a second, with Connor De Phillippi in third for Land Motorsports just 0.074 seconds adrift and Jack Hawksworth in fourth 0.085 seconds behind the class leader in his No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3.

The No. 15 Lexus brought out the session’s only red flag just past the half way mark when Robert Alon pulled the car off course in Turn 10, but it returned to the track to set its fast time later in the practice.

Prototype Challenge saw Pato O’Ward pace the field of four Oreca FLM09 machines, clocking in a session-best time of 1:55.172 in the Rolex 24-winning No. 38 Performance Tech entry.

Up next for the WeatherTech Championship teams is another one-hour practice at 3:15 p.m. ET.

RESULTS: Practice 1

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.



  1. vanillachinchilla

    March 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Looks like IMSA is taking BoP a bit more seriously than the DP-P2 saga. Lessons learned?
    looks to be a good race

    • Jareth Belanger

      March 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      umm do you understand how hard it is to “balance” out machines that are radically different in design purpose?

      The DPi/LMP2 BoP will be a lot closer overall going forward because while the aero and engines and other small things are different, the basic way they go around the track is the same.

      The old DPs relied on power and mechanical grip more than the old lmp2s which focused on aero and weight savings. The DPs ran hotter brakes, hotter tires, were less likely to hydroplane than the LMP2s. The old LMP2s could dive in farther on corners not kill tires as fast, and go further on less fuel.

      Shit was hard to balance as fuck. With DPi, most of that difference in philosohy is gone.

    • Jake

      March 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      I’d say they are taking it far too seriously. No offense to Simpson or JDC Miller Motorsports. But if anyone believes they were fastest on pace and all cars were equal, Ive got a bridge for sale. The reality is Mazda has missed the mark so badly, anc Nissan ESM is nothing short of a half assed attempt at a DPi, that Cadillac are being forced to run with more weight and less power.

      • welp

        March 16, 2017 at 3:45 pm

        It doesn’t help that they are supposed to be branded cars with identifying marks. There was really no way for Mazda to do that and still make a modern style prototype where Caddy is just an improved upon Dallara.

  2. Mark Twain

    March 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Relax now, this was just first practice… We’ll see who’s on top after qually.

    • Bakkster

      March 16, 2017 at 4:42 pm


  3. jason

    March 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Good chance to see GTLM’s in the 1:56’s for qualifying. That is awesome!

  4. Pierce

    March 16, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Cadillac’s still went faster in FP1 than they did in testing and so did JDC. We’ll see how the weekend plays out

  5. MACK1956

    March 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    1 49 is faster than the laST 2 YEARS

  6. Mike S.

    March 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Yeah, sandbagging teams working on race setup and long haul here. Wouldn’t get excited by one car over another right now. Some cars like PR1 #52 Ligier and Rebellion just want to be reliable and finish working kinks out still after a pretty bad D24.

  7. JB

    March 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Have the Gibson powered cars turned up their revs now or are they still being limited?

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