Matt Campbell of the #7 Porsche Penske Motorsports GTP was quickest by the end of the opening free practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for this weekend’s Battle on the Bricks.
It’s been nine years since IMSA had hosted a race at the historic Indianapolis venue, and this weekend marks an exciting return with a 39-car field across five classes.
A 2-hour and 40-minute final 2023 sprint race, commencing this Sunday 17 September, will also mark the penultimate round on this year’s schedule.
The first free practice outing took place in the early afternoon local time, and in dry conditions over the course of 1-hour and 30-minutes.
Drivers and teams were keen to explore the track’s boundaries, and indeed their cars’, after a several drivers went on the run-off or spun at Turns 1, 11 and 12.
Traffic management is set to be a prominent challenge, and drivers made sure to see what the alternative option was to the typical racing line by following the run-offs.
Early in the session, it was Filipe Albuquerque in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 who set the pace, having yet to score a race win this season despite himself and teammate Ricky Taylor currently leading the points standings.
Gianmaria Bruni in the #59 Proton Competition Porsche 963 was provisionally in second place, showcasing promising pace as the team look to score strongly at a brand new circuit for them.
Over the field of GTDs, the #78 Forte Racing Lamborghini Huracan EVO2 was leading the way as they seek redemption after crashing out from the IMSA GT at VIR, due to reliability woes.
With 50 minutes remaining, a red flag was deployed for the #77 Wright Motorsports driver of Alan Brynjolfsson who lost the rear of his Porsche 911 GT3.R at Turn 4, getting stuck into the gravel.
FP1 continued with just under 45 minutes on the clock, as all 39 cars continued raking up useful laps at the Brickyard.
The #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V Series.R spent the session in last of the GTPs, nursing what they suspected as a failing component which meant they could not match the pace-setting GTPs at almost two seconds behind the top times.
They conducted a sighting lap at the end, after spending much of the session behind the wall.
A second red flag was deployed for the #94 Andretti Autosport of Jarett Andretti, when his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 went slowly and stopped off the track at Turn 7 after being on fire, seemingly from one of the exhaust pipes situated behind the front wheel.
The situation was dealt with swiftly by the circuit marshalls, and 13-minutes of green flag running remained for FP1.
By the end, Matt Campbell of the #7 Porsche Penske Motorsport GTP set the outright fastest lap time with a 1:15.184.
Second and third places was covered by the #10 and the #01 Cadillac Racing.
In the LMP2 class, the #11 TDS Racing Oreca 07 of Mikkel Jensen was fastest with a 1:17.231, as the #18 Era Motorsport and the #04 Crowdstrike by APR teams rounded off the top-three.
LMP3 was topped by Garett Grist in the #30 Jr III Racing after a 1:20.737 led the field of seven, five of which are Ligier JSP320s and two of which are Duqueine D08s.
Jack Hawksworth in the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 set a late quickest time over all GTD Pro and GTD cars, a 1:23.636 which put them ahead of the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 – whose Patrick Gallagher was fastest in GTD – and the #78 Lamborghini who finished behind.
The second free practice session will take place from 13:55 UK time until 15:40 tomorrow afternoon.