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Taylor Quickest for Acura Team Penske in Opening Practice

Ricky Taylor fastest for Acura Team Penske in opening practice for Petit Le Mans…

Photo: IMSA

Ricky Taylor set the pace for Acura Team Penske in the first practice session for this weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans 10-hour enduro at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Taylor, who shares the No. 7 Acura ARX-05 with Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi, posted a time of 1:10.086 to lead the one-hour session by 0.068 seconds from Mazda Motorsports driver Oliver Jarvis.

All but one of the eight DPi cars lapped to within half a second of Taylor’s benchmark, which came just before the halfway point.

Mazda RT24-Ps finished second and third as Jonathan Bomarito’s time of 1:10.243, which was best overall until Jarvis and Taylor came through with improvements, ended up being good enough for third.

Early pace-setter Felipe Nasr, who turned in a flurry of quick laps in the first handful of minutes for Whelen Engineering Racing, was fourth in the leaderboard on a 1:10.326.

The Cadillac DPi-V.R driver placed ahead of Mustang Sampling Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, JDC-Miller Motorsports’ Gabriel Aubry and Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya.

In eighth was the championship-leading Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, which came through 0.786 seconds off the pace.

All the class-leading times were set in the opening half of the session, which was red-flagged for a brief period with around 10 minutes remaining.

Fastest in GT Le Mans was Laurens Vanthoor, who headed up a one-two for the CORE autosport-run Porsche North America squad.

Vanthoor’s 1:17.008 put the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 almost half a second clear of its sister No. 911 entry which finished second in the hands of Nick Tandy.

Connor de Phillippi placed the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE third with a time of 1:17.607, while the best Corvette Racing lap came from Antonio Garcia, who clocked in at 1:17.755 to go fourth in class aboard the U.S manufacturer’s No. 3 machine.

Lamborghini entries ran first and second in GT Daytona as Bryan Sellers led the way with a 1:19.946 to eclipse GRT Magnus driver Andy Lally’s previous best by 0.173 seconds.

Darren Turner was third in The Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3, ahead of Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 AIM/Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.

IMSA debutant Mikkel Jensen set the pace in the all-ORECA LMP2 class for Tower Motorsport by Starworks. 

Practice 1 was interrupted by a brief red flag that came out with just over 10 minutes to go.

Chris Miller went off in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi at the bottom of the Esses hill, but the American was able to get back going after a short pause.

This enabled the session to resume with a few spare minutes left on the clock, but no lap time improvements were made at the sharp end of the field in the closing stages.

Practice 2 is set to get underway at 3:45 p.m. EST.

RESULTS: Practice 1

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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