Taylor Drives Acura Team Penske to the Lead on Day One of Sebring Practice
The superstar Penske lineup was able to outpace its closest competitor by nearly half a second in FP4.
Acura Team Penske driver and reigning IMSA champion Ricky Taylor led the American outfit to the fastest time in the final free practice session at Sebring on Thursday. The 28-year-old was able to manage a quickest lap of 1:47.076 which placed his crew 0.436 seconds ahead of the second place No. 22 ESM Nissan Onroak DPi of Pipo Derani.
Pato O'Ward finished third in his Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson prototype, falling 0.785 seconds off of the lead. His best of 1:47.861 was promptly followed by the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P of Jonathan Bomarito who came in fourth. Oliver Pla rounded out the top-five in his No. 2 ESM, placing all four Cadillac DPi cars in the bottom half of the Prototype field.
“It’s so competitive again this year,” Taylor said. “We’ve done, I think, 10 or 11 days of testing here, so we’ve got a really good handle on this Acura DPi. We unloaded very strong and we’re just kind of fine tuning now. The car’s very good. I think qualifying is going to be a different story, and in the race, you’re going to have to face 85-degree temperatures and then 50-degree temperatures at the end. There’s a lot of work still to do. I don’t think we can read too much into this.”
In GT Le Mans, the BMW M8 GTE twins claimed a one-two finish in FP4. The No. 25 car of Connor De Phillippi outpaced the rest via a 1:56.566 lap and his teammate Jesse Krohn came 0.239 seconds behind in the No. 24 entry. The tandem of Porsche 911 RSRs came in third and fourth with Laurens Vanthoor piloting the No. 911 car and Nick Tandy driving the No. 912 respectively. Joey Hand came in fifth behind the wheel of Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 66 Ford GT.
Land Motorsport's No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 topped the GTD field with a 1:59.130. Daniel Serra nabbed second in the class while driving Spirit of Racing's Ferrari 488 GTE, and Trent Hindman claimed third in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 entry for Michael Shanks Racing. Wright Motorsport's Porsche 911 GT3 R completed the final free practice outing in fourth while Scuderia Corsa's Ferrari finished fifth in the category.
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