Cameron pips returnee Blomqvist after two red flags in FP1

Porsche’s Dane Cameron set the pace in opening practice for the sixth round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen, ahead of the returning Tom Blomqvist for Cadillac.

IMSA brings a 56-car field to the classic 3.4-mile road course, which hosted the United States Grand Prix for 20 years, set in the rolling hills near the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.

Cameron led the way in the 90-minute session in his factory-backed #7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 with a lap of 1m34.175s, as dry conditions altered the run plans of the teams, many of which were expecting wet weather in each practice session this weekend.

After a brief red flag for the Tower Motorsports LMP2 Oreca crashing at Turn 1, which required some barrier repairs, recently jettisoned IndyCar racer Blomqvist jumped up to second in the Action Express-run #31 Cadillac V-Series.R, lapping 0.172s off Cameron’s pace.

Unlike the majority of the GTP teams, Blomqvist joins regular-season racers Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken in a three-driver lineup for the six-hour enduro.

“I missed it more than I thought I would,” Blomqvist told IMSA Radio. “Took me a few laps but then I got comfortable, I guess this is what I’m built for!

“Initially I wasn’t supposed to be here, but things happened on the other side [in IndyCar] and Pipo’s expecting another child, so in case it arrives then it’s better to have three drivers instead of one!”

A second red flag was required with 13 minutes remaining, again for the Tower LMP2, when Charlie Eastwood crashed it at Turn 7, this time deranging its left-front corner.

That only allowed for a four-minute sprint to the end of the session, but the hard compound Michelin tire in play this weekend meant there were no significant improvements.

Filipe Albuquerque was third fastest in his Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06, ahead of Philipp Eng’s BMW M Hybrid V8 and Nick Tandy in the #6 PPM 963.

Mikkel Jensen led LMP2 with 1m35.531s in the TDS Racing Oreca that he will share with Steven Thomas and Hunter McElrea. He was 0.046s quicker than Felipe Fraga’s Riley-run version, and set the fastest middle sector overall.

Laurin Heinrich set the pace in GTD Pro, lapping his AO Racing ‘Rexy’ Porsche 911 GT3 R in 1m45.242s, a couple of tenths clear of the pro-am category leader Scott Andrews in Lone Star Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Spencer Pumpelly spun the Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage at Turn 7 and rejoined.

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