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Porsche Paces First Day of IMSA Open Test at IMS

Friday, July 28, 2023 Paul Kelly, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports car

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge teams are testing at IMS to prepare for the Battle on the Bricks on Sept. 15-17.

INDYCAR SERIES Veterans Wickens, Hawksworth Out Front in Other Classes

Porsche power was on full display during the first day of an International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Open Test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, as drivers in the mythical German marque turned the two quickest times Friday.

Tijmen van der Helm of the Netherlands was quickest overall and in the premier Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course with a lap of 1 minute, 15.244 seconds in the No. 5 JDC Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 prototype.

SEE: Results

“It feels good but for me, I don’t try to be at the top,” van der Helm said. “I just want a consistent car for the race for the next time. If we can battle with the rest, I think that’s the goal for us.

van der Helm’s quickest lap was recorded during the second of two sessions for the five classes that comprise the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which returns to IMS for the Battle on the Bricks on Sept. 15-17. The start of the morning session was delayed by about two hours due to heavy rain.

“From the first laps we had a good car, so we were able to try some stuff, and now we know a bit more what works and what doesn’t,” van der Helm said. “I think it worked pretty well. We got a lot of laps done compared to the rest, and I think that’s also what we’re going to try for tomorrow.”

van der Helm and co-driver Mike Rockenfeller of Germany teamed up to complete 43 laps in the first session and 82 in the second, more than any other GTP driving duo. Testing will continue from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at IMS.

The Porsche Penske Motorsports tandem of Matt Campbell of Australia and Felipe Nasr of Brazil was second overall Friday at 1:15.312 in the No. 7 Porsche 963. Campbell led the morning session at 1:15.636.

In the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP3) class, Indianapolis 500 veteran Ben Hanley was quickest at 1:17.416 in the No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR car. Matthew Bell led the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class at 1:21.401 in the No. 13 AWA machine.

Former INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone driver Jack Hawksworth led the GT Daytona Pro (GTD Pro) class with a best lap of 1:24.898 in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 co-owned by former INDYCAR SERIES team owners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan.

Mikael Grenier paced the GT Daytona (GTD) class at 1:24.916 in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 car.

All five classes will compete simultaneously during the Battle on the Bricks, with the nearly 10-second gap in lap times between the GTP and GTD cars ensuring plenty of action and drama as quicker prototypes navigate lapped traffic of the production-appearing GTD classes.

In testing for the Michelin Pilot Challenge series, which showcases the latest high-performance production sports cars, coupes, hatchbacks and sedans, the pairing of Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss were quickest in both sessions Friday in the No. 56 Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 fielded in the Grand Sport (GS) class by Murillo Racing.

Foss turned the top lap of 1:31.865 in the second session. Teammates Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak were second overall, right behind at 1:31.959 in the team’s No. 72 Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 machine.

A familiar name to NTT INDYCAR SERIES fans led the Touring Car Racing (TCR) class, as series and Indianapolis 500 veteran Robert Wickens was quickest overall at 1:33.315 in the No. 33 Hyundai Elantra N TCR fielded by Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian. The team owned by INDYCAR SERIES veteran and current Andretti Autosport strategist Bryan Herta also was second on the TCR time sheets, with Mark Wilkins and Mason Filippi at 1:33.634 in the team’s No. 98 Hyundai Elantra N.