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Matt Campbell recorded the fastest lap at IMS in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963. (IMSA photo)

Campbell Clocks Fastest Lap During IMSA Practice

INDIANAPOLIS — Matt Campbell got the weekend off to an impressive start Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

That’s always a good thing when your boss owns the race track.

Campbell recorded the fastest lap in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 during the first practice session as drivers began preparations for Sunday’s TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks.

Campbell’s team owner, Roger Penske, also owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s the boss’ race track, so there’s a high expectation this weekend to perform very well and try to get a good result here as well,” Campbell said. “Generally, the car was quite good. We struggled a bit at the start of the session, but then toward the end we were reasonably happy.”   

Campbell was clocked at 1 minute, 15.184 seconds (116.785 mph) in the No. 7 Porsche 963 he co-drives with Felipe Nasr. Campbell’s lap was fastest overall in the 48-car, five-class IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship field and best among the 10 cars in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class.

Mikkel Jensen was fastest in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class, recording a lap of 1:17.231 (113.689 mph) in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA LMP2 07 he co-drives with Steven Thomas. Garett Grist was fastest among Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) drivers with a lap of 1:20.737 (108.752 mph) in the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 he co-drives with Nolan Siegel.

Filipe Albuquerque, who shares the lead in the GTP championship standings with co-driver Ricky Taylor, had the second-fastest lap behind Campbell at 1:15.206 in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06.

Albuquerque and Taylor lead the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R and its co-drivers, Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims, by 14 points in the GTP standings with just two races remaining in the 2023 season.

Hawksworth Powers To The Top Of Practice Sheets

Jack Hawksworth powered the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 to the two fastest practice laps in the WeatherTech Championship’s Grand Touring (GT) classes Friday afternoon at IMS.

Hawksworth, who leads the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) standings with co-driver Ben Barnicoat, was the first GT driver to lap the IMS road course in less than 1 minute, 24 seconds, notching a 1:23.837 with fewer than three minutes remaining in the 90-minute session. He went even faster the next time around, lowering the benchmark to 1:23.636 (104.983 mph).

Klaus Bachler set the second-best GTD PRO time fourth overall in the GT classes in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) at 1:24.221 (104.254 mph).

“The track was a lot hotter when we tested here (in late July) and so was the ambient temperature,” Hawksworth commented. “But the actual balance of the car didn’t feel too different — just a little bit more grip today. Fortunately, what we rolled off with today was how we finished off the test and the car feels relatively similar.”

Hawksworth and Barnicoat have won twice in 2023 (Long Beach at Watkins Glen), and Hawksworth boasts a WeatherTech Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) class win at Indianapolis in 2014.

“It’s awesome to be back, and as a major sports car series in the U.S., IMSA needs to be here,” Hawksworth said. “Getting on the track today was a lot of fun and we got some good work done.”

Loris Spinelli was the GT session pacesetter for more than an hour, clocking a 1:24.142 (104.351 mph) in the No. 78 Forte Racing Powered by USRT Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. That time held up for second place in GTD but was finally eclipsed by Patrick Gallagher’s 1:24.019 (104.504 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3.