DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been a long time coming, but the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s return to racing finally kicked off on Friday evening with the first practice session for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech 240 At Daytona.
After a steamy and stormy afternoon, the temperatures dipped and rains receded, allowing for a full, hour-long session Friday evening that ended with Juan Pablo Montoya atop the time chart.
In the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, Montoya took the lead late with a time of one minute, 35.960 over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi. Harry Tincknell made it three different manufacturers in the top three with a third-place time of 1:36.013 in the No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi.
“It felt great,” said Montoya. “It’s very hot, it’s humid. We were lucky with all the rain through the day and thunder we were able to get the practice in the dry.
“IMSA did a really good job. I’m really happy to be back in this Acura. It’s such an amazing car. It’s funny, we were laughing with (co-driver) Dane (Cameron). I’ve done a lot of simulator racing and I got to the first braking zone and even on cold tires, I got on the brakes and I was looking at the seatbelts. I was like, ‘Oof! Oh, yeah, I need to hold my head back here.’”
By the end of the session, the top seven positions were separated by only .789 seconds.
In the GTLM class, the defending class champions and runners-up in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 posted the fastest lap. Laurens Vanthoor posted a time of 1:44.003 ahead of what will be the team’s final ride in the GTLM class at Daytona International Speedway.
In the GTD class, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 fittingly topped the charts, with driver Toni Vilander at the wheel of the white, red and blue WeatherTech machine. Vilander, who will co-drive tomorrow with Cooper MacNeil, posted a time of 1:47.481.