Sunday, Sep 24

Campbell Powers No. 7 Porsche Penske to Top at WeatherTech Raceway Practice

Saturday, May 13 591

May 12, 2023

By Mark Robinson

IMSA Wire Service

Practice 1 Results


MONTEREY, Calif. – Bright California sunshine on Friday provided a shimmering backdrop to a busy opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice ahead of Sunday’s Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N. When the 90-minute session took the checkered flag, Matt Campbell sat atop the leaderboard in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963.


Colin Braun set the standard early with a lap of 1 minute, 17.019 seconds (104.607 mph) in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06 that stood until Campbell’s 1:16.703 (105.038 mph) flyer with five minutes to go at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.


“It was good,” Campbell said of the lap in the No. 7 that he shares with Felipe Nasr. “I only drove the last 20 minutes of the session. Felipe did a lot at the beginning and then I just jumped in. I just got some mileage at the end, so feeling comfortable and that’s the main thing heading into tomorrow.”


“For me, the first time here in a prototype so very different obviously to what I’m used to, but very enjoyable,” Campbell added. “Now we’ve got a lot to go through tonight – the session was very late today – to get ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s a big day with final practice and qualifying.”


Braun’s early lap held up for second overall. Mathieu Jaminet was third in the No. 6 Penske Porsche 963 at 1:17.115 (104.477 mph). Jaminet and co-driver Nick Tandy are coming off a win last month at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, giving Porsche its first GTP victory and making it three different manufacturers to win the first three races of the new top prototype era, following Acura and Cadillac.


The lone substantial incident of Friday’s practice occurred less than 20 minutes in when Sebastien Bourdais ran wide over the curbs approaching Turn 6, lost control of the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R and slid into the tire barrier. Bourdais walked away from the crash but the Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared car sustained significant right-side damage and was finished for the session.


Other class leaders in practice were: Louis Deletraz in Le Mans Prototype 2, 1:17.897 (103.428 mph) in the No. 8 Tower Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07; Frankie Montecalvo in GT Daytona (GTD), 1:24.796 (95.013 mph) in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3; and Ben Barnicoat in GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO), 1:25.020 (94.763 mph) in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.


The final WeatherTech Championship practice starts at 11:55 a.m. ET Saturday. Qualifying streams live on Peacock and at 3:55 p.m.


Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race airs live at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

JDC-Miller Taking Baby Steps with GTP Program


For most teams and drivers, seeing the checkered flag at the end of a race is when they can exhale, relax and smile. For John Church and JDC-Miller MotorSports, seeing Sunday’s green flag to start the Motul Course de Monterey will bring satisfaction enough.


JDC-Miller becomes the first customer team of the new GTP era this weekend, joining the eight factory-backed entries representing four manufacturers. Veteran Mike Rockenfeller and 19-year-old Tijmen van der Helm are piloting the No. 5 Porsche 963, turning their first-ever laps in the car during Friday’s practice at WeatherTech Raceway.


“It’ll be nice when the green flag flies on Sunday and we can relax and just start doing our thing,” Church, the team’s managing director, admitted.


Rockenfeller turned 17 laps during Friday’s 90-minute session, with a top lap of 1:19.563 (101.262 mph), 2.860 seconds behind GTP pacesetter Matt Campbell in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963.


Church said the plan for WeatherTech Raceway couldn’t be more straightforward.


“For this weekend, we want to make every session and run as many laps as we can,” Church said. “I mean, it’s a test weekend – just get a feel for everything and like I keep telling the guys, we’re here to learn all the stuff we don’t know. There’s a lot of things that we don’t know that we don’t know, so we’ve just got to go and run and figure it out.”


Rockenfeller is being leaned on for his experience developing race cars. He is a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, including overall in 2010 in an Audi Le Mans Prototype 1, was the Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner the same year in an Acton Express Racing Porsche-Riley, and is one of the drivers who’ll take on Le Mans next month in the NASCAR Garage 56 Camaro.


The 39-year-old German understands well that the JDC-Miller program must walk before it can run.


“Honestly, I think we can feel as winners if we do every session (this weekend) more or less on time, if we have no big issues and we stay on track,” Rockenfeller said. “If we finish the race, I’m happy. I go home happy because we will learn a lot.”


Mazda MX-5 Cup Car Raffle Benefits Parkinson’s Fight with Michael J. Fox Foundation

Fans have a chance to win an actual Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires race car and help the fight against Parkinson’s disease at the same time, thanks to an initiative from Mazda, Whelen Engineering, Flis Performance and Team Fox.


The race car, valued at $100,000, was unveiled Friday at WeatherTech Raceway. With a minimum donation of $25 to, fans will be entered in a raffle to win the car specially designed by Flis. Proceeds benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.


For Sonny Whelen, the initiative is personal. The owner and executive vice president of Whelen Engineering that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship suffers from Parkinson’s, the debilitative brain disorder that currently has no cure.


“I have been a passionate supporter of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and their mission to find a cure for Parkinson’s for many years,” Whelen said. “I am especially proud to bring this project to fruition and raise money for the important research that needs to be done to find better treatments and, ultimately, a cure.” 

Friday Notes


  • Mercedes-AMG and Audi set the pace in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice Friday at WeatherTech Raceway following a pair of on-track sessions. Scott Andrews turned the fastest lap in the Grand Sport (GS) class, 1:30.918 (88.615 mph), in the No. 27 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4. In the Touring Car (TCR) class, Denis Dupont (No. 15 Rockwell Autosport Development Audi RS3 LMS SEQ) topped the chart at 1:32.588 (87.017 mph). Qualifying for the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 starts at 2 pm. ET Saturday, with the two-hour race streaming live on Peacock at 7:30 p.m.


  • Danny Formal, half of the defending champion duo in the Pro class of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, was quickest following the first two practice sessions of the 2023 season. Formal, who shares the No. 1 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, Lamborghini Palm Beach Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2 with Kyle Marcelli, was clocked at 1:24.625 (95.205 mph). Super Trofeo races are set for 5:20 p.m. ET Saturday and 12:40 p.m. Sunday.


  • Gresham Wagner (No. 5 Spark Performance) qualified on the pole position for Saturday’s Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires race with a best lap of 1:38.301 (81.960 mph). The first race 45-minute race of the weekend doubleheader takes the green flag at 2:50 p.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race set to start at 11:35 a.m. ET.
Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for, where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of

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