VIR IMSA: Westbrook quickest for Ford in first practice

Ford’s Richard Westbrook set the pace in the opening practice session for the GT-only round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Virginia International Raceway.

VIR IMSA: Westbrook quickest for Ford in first practice

Westbrook set the quickest time on the very last lap of the session, ahead of Porsche’s Earl Bamber and the sister Ford of Joey Hand.

The session was red flagged after just a handful of laps to retrieve the GT Daytona championship-leading Lamborghini Huracan of Bryan Sellars, which laid an oil slick before pulling off between Turns 11 & 12.

Sellars had set the pace in GTD at the time, at 1m45.565s, but the Paul Miller Racing car now requires a new engine before the second session.

The track went green again with 33 minutes of the hour-long session left, with Dirk Muller taking P1 with 1m43.593s in the #66 Ford GT, before Ganassi Racing teammate Ryan Briscoe grabbed it with 1m43.394s in the #67 for a Ford 1-2.

Corvette’s Jan Magnussen was the first to break the 1m43s barrier, setting 1m42.951s with a quarter of the session remaining. Earl Bamber eclipsed it by a margin though, with a lap of 1m42.761s.

Hand (in for Muller in #66) had set the second fastest lap in the closing stages with 1m42.793s – just 0.032s shy of Bamber’s fastest lap at the time. But, having taken over from Briscoe, then Westbrook bested them all with a 1m42.627s, over a tenth clear of Bamber and Hand.

Magnussen stayed fourth, with Patrick Pilet fifth in the second Porsche, ahead of the quickest BMW of Alexander Sims.

The sidelined Sellars didn’t keep his top spot in GTD, with Jack Hawksworth’s Lexus topping the timesheets with 1m48.596s, ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen’s Mercedes.

However, Bleekemolen’s teammate Ben Keating was forced out of the session with five minutes remaining. Andy Lally was third quickest in the Magnus Audi, ahead of Sellars.

Session results:

Pos # Driver Class Chassis Time Gap
1 67 Australia Ryan Briscoe
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
GTLM Ford GT 1'42.627  
2 912 New Zealand Earl Bamber
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
GTLM Porsche 911 RSR 1'42.761 0.134
3 66 United States Joey Hand
Germany Dirk Muller
GTLM Ford GT 1'42.793 0.166
4 3 Denmark Jan Magnussen
Spain Antonio Garcia
GTLM Corvette C7.R 1'42.951 0.324
5 911 United Kingdom Nick Tandy
France Patrick Pilet
GTLM Porsche 911 RSR 1'42.970 0.343
6 25 United States Connor de Phillippi
United Kingdom Alexander Sims
GTLM BMW M8 GTE 1'43.055 0.428
7 4 United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
United States Tommy Milner
GTLM Corvette C7.R 1'43.360 0.733
8 24 United States John Edwards
Finland Jesse Krohn
GTLM BMW M8 GTE 1'44.101 1.474
9 15 Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
United Kingdom Jack Hawksworth
GTD Lexus RC F GT3 1'45.160 2.533
10 33 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
United States Ben Keating
GTD Mercedes-AMG GT3 1'45.190 2.563
11 44 United States Andy Lally
United States John Potter
GTD Audi R8 LMS GT3 1'45.440 2.813
12 48 United States Bryan Sellers
United States Madison Snow
GTD Lamborghini Huracan GT3 1'45.565 2.938
13 96 United States Bill Auberlen
United States Robby Foley
GTD BMW M6 GT3 1'45.583 2.956
14 93 United States Justin Marks
United States Lawson Aschenbach
GTD Acura NSX GT3 1'45.607 2.980
15 86 United Kingdom Katherine Legge
Germany Mario Farnbacher
GTD Acura NSX GT3 1'45.608 2.981
16 58 United States Patrick Long
Denmark Christina Nielsen
GTD Porsche 911 GT3 R 1'45.821 3.194
17 63 United States Cooper MacNeil
United States Gunnar Jeannette
GTD Ferrari 488 GT3 1'46.455 3.828
18 14 Canada Kyle Marcelli
Austria Dominik Baumann
GTD Lexus RC F GT3 1'46.487 3.860
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