Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Friday Notebook

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada – If Friday's practice times from both IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice sessions at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park are any indication, we're in for a treat in Sunday's Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix (Live, FS1, Noon ET).

Ryan Dalziel posted the day's fastest time in the afternoon session, clocking a lap of 1 minute, 8.994 seconds (128.306 mph) in the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi. However, his next closest pursuer, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Ricky Taylor was just 0.059 seconds behind, and Dalziel's teammate, Pipo Derani was third quickest in the session in the No. 22 Nissan DPi, just 0.099 seconds behind the leader.

And in each of the day's sessions, the top seven cars in the Prototype class were covered by less than one second.

"It's a good start for both Patrón cars," Dalziel said. "I don't think anybody's really got a proper lap. We had a little traffic and you'd see some of the predictives. I think the DPis can run a little faster, we just haven't had clear enough track to do it. It'll be good. It's nice to see both of the Tequila Patrón cars at the front."

Dalziel stressed the importance of qualifying at or near the front at the ultra-fast, 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course for the two-hour and 40-minute race, and is hoping the team can rebound from a tough outing in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen last Sunday. Derani scored the TOTAL Pole Award and both cars led the race before encountering difficulties.

"We had such a bittersweet Watkins Glen," he said. "We had so much pace throughout the race, both cars leading a lot of laps and then both cars DNF was pretty (disappointing). We're hoping we can rebound. We know we can. Every race, we're learning more about these cars. We're just trying to gradually iron out all the creases and take a big assault towards the end of the year for next year."

New Porsche Lineup Paying Immediate Dividends in GTLM

It hasn't taken long for Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria "Gimmi" Bruni to gel as co-drivers in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. Bruni competed in his first race with the team last weekend at Watkins Glen, and today, the duo found themselves atop the GT Le Mans (GTLM) leaderboard after each practice session.

Vanthoor ultimately turned in the day's fastest GTLM lap of 1:14.753 (118.421 mph) in the afternoon session, and led a 1-2 sweep of both sessions for the Porsche GT Team. Second quickest on the day was Patrick Pilet at 1:15.280 (117.592 mph) in the No. 911 Porsche.

"Laurens did the fastest lap today, so we are working on it," said Bruni, a longtime Ferrari factory driver before making the recent switch to Porsche. "We still have much to improve, but we are going the right direction.

"It's a nice track. It's an old-school track. It's cool. It has a lot of high speed and I like it. It's good."

Vanthoor concurred with his new co-driver, both on their working relationship so far, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

"I really love the track," Vanthoor said. "Mosport is amazing. It's the reason why I want to race in IMSA, because of these kind of tracks. We've been working really well. Gimmi is focusing on the long runs, I'm focusing more on the qualifying performance. Up to now, we're doing good. We see room for improvement. Today doesn't count for anything, tomorrow nobody remembers, but it's a good way to start the weekend."

Karam Shows the Way for Lexus in GT Daytona

The WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class already has seen a pair of new-for-2017 manufacturers find their way to victory lane, with Mercedes-AMG winning Sebring, Long Beach and Circuit of The Americas before Acura claimed back-to-back wins in last month's race at Detroit and last weekend at Watkins Glen.

At the end of Day 1 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it seems feasible that Lexus is next to break through. Sage Karam posted the day's fastest time in the second practice session, posting a best lap of 1:17.135 (114.764 mph) in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 he shares with Scott Pruett.

"Ended day one here and we were P1 overall in the 14 Lexus RC F GT3, so very, very pleased about that," Karam said. "The Lexus was great – it felt awesome out there. The guys made a lot of changes early on in the day.

"We didn't roll off the truck where we wanted to be, but overall got it to where we think we need to be for qualifying. There's a big difference between new and old tires – I couldn't believe the difference of how much grip you pick up. It was such a great lap.

"I love this track when you're on new tires around here – you're just so on it. And then you've got to have so much confidence in the car that it's going to stick. You never really get laps like that at any other track on the schedule and it's just an amazing lap when everything goes together the way you want it to."

Karam's best lap was just 0.263 seconds quicker than Andrew Davis, who posted a best lap of 1:17.398 (114.375 mph) in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3. Third was GTD points co-leader Christina Nielsen in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 at 1:17.430 (114.327 mph).

The top 10 GTD times in Friday's afternoon session were covered by less than one second.

Repairs Under Way on No. 50 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG after Friday Morning Incident

In the first WeatherTech Championship practice of the day, GT Daytona (GTD) driver Gunnar Jeannette spun, scraped the wall and subsequently nosed the No. 50 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the tire barrier in Turn 8 after contact with Garett Grist in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports Prototype Challenge (PC) car. Jeannette was evaluated and released from the care center and the car was being repaired in time for practice on Saturday morning.

"I'm fine," Jeannette said. "Luckily, the Mercedes-AMG is a strong car. That was a pretty big couple of hits. I went down into Turn 8 and a PC car was coming up the inside of me and one of the other GTD cars. I don't know what happened.

"He was really close to us, closer than he needed to be. We were all the way over on the left-hand side of the track. I think he hit the brakes before we did and, when he hit the brakes, the car came over a little bit and collected my front. That just sent me into the wall. It sucks. I don't know what the plan of action is going to be to get us back out there. But, the car is pretty hurt."

VOLT Racing Ready for a Change of Pace with New Ford Mustang

There's one team in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge paddock that unloaded a race car this weekend completely unlike what it previously competed with thus far in the season.

Alan Brynjolfsson and Chris Hall, co-drivers for the No. 7 VOLT Racing team, are hopping in the driver's seat of a Ford Mustang this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, rather than the McLaren GT4 the team has used up to now. The move comes after competing in three races and recording a best finish of eighth in the Grand Sport (GS) class at the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona in January.

"The reason we went with the Ford was we saw how well the Ford performed in the first four races," said Brynjolfsson, who pulls triple-duty on race weekends as driver, team owner and founder of the car's sponsor VOLT Lighting. "They did great at Daytona, they won Sebring…they won Watkins Glen, so what can you say? There were only one or two Fords entered and they were championship contenders and we want to be championship contenders, so we thought it gave us the best chance to win."

Having received the Mustang only yesterday morning, the drivers haven't gotten much seat time in the Ford, painted with the team's signature neon yellow livery. However, that hasn't stopped them from already clocking fast laps in today's two practice sessions. By the end of the second session, the No. 7 VOLT Racing Ford Mustang sat third on the leaderboard.

"The Mustang is much more of a handful, but as a race car driver it's kind of more fun for me," Brynjolfsson said. "The McLaren felt more like a street car- it has air conditioning, power windows, power steering, it was very quiet. But you felt more removed. The Mustang is raw, visceral, loud and as a race car driver, that's what I want. I enjoy driving the Mustang more."

The team won't be flying in the dark though as it embarks on the rest of the season with Ford.

"We're working with Multimatic," Brynjolfsson said. "They have been fantastic on delivering the car quickly and perfectly intact. We came here, showed up without ever shaking the car down, which is unheard of, and we jumped right on the track and it's performed flawlessly. On top of that, they have sent a big team of engineers who have supported us and helped us."

The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 goes green tomorrow at 2:50 p.m. ET following a 20-minute practice session at 8 a.m. and qualifying immediately thereafter.

Continental Tire Challenge Notes

  • The first Continental Tire Challenge practice this morning claimed several cars as victims. After the No. 4 Team TGM Porsche Cayman GT4 suffered mechanical issues on track yesterday, the sister No. 46 was involved in an incident this morning that forced the Team TGM to withdraw from the event as a whole. The No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang also experienced mechanical issues during the first practice which severely limited track time for Toronto-native Scott Maxwell and last week's winner Jack Roush Jr. in the second practice. The hardest hit though both practice sessions was experienced by Ari Balogh in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i in Turn 3 during the morning session. The team will be working through the night to fix significant front-end damage on the car.
  • This weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bodymotion Racing will be giving an opportunity to a Canadian service member to join the team and participate in tomorrow's race as a crew member through a new charity called Operation Motorsport. The charity is designed to educate disable veterans about motorsports and provide an opportunity for employment in the industry.

"My first reaction is this can't be a new idea," said Bodymotion Racing Team Owner Mike Bavaro. "Somebody has to have thought of this because it's such a good idea… Wouldn't it be nice to get a disabled vet who has an interest or some knowledge of cars, bring them in, teach them something and actually give the guy a job, part-time or full-time?cI think it's something we have to do to give back in any way we can."

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