From fire to fast: Juncadella puts WeatherTech Mercedes on top in VIR practice 2

The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 went from a pit lane fire yesterday to the top of the time sheets today in the second practice session for the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway. Daniel Juncadella climbed out of the burning car near the end of practice yesterday, then set the quick time today as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT teams prepare for this afternoon’s qualifying session and tomorrow’s race.

Juncadella completed his 1m44.539s lap as the checkered flag flew to end the session. It was quite the turnaround from yesterday’s fire, although the damage from the blaze caused by a loose fuel line was mostly limited to bodywork, and the team finished repairing the car as well as making a setup change around midnight.

“It’s very good for the crew; some of them lost a bit of hair yesterday from the fire,” said Juncadella’s co-driver Jules Gounon. “We’re always trying our best shot, but it looks like the car suits the track quite good. And we did some change overnight also, on top of the repairs, on the setup and it looks it was a great improvement. So yeah, thanks to our team and let’s see what we can do in qualy.”


With the last 15 minutes of the 1h45m practice being reserved for the GTD PRO cars, the final minutes were a flurry of activity as the teams did simulated qualifying runs. The top three in GTD PRO were also the top three overall, and covered by a tenth of a second. Jack Hawksworth had been on top until Juncadella’s final lap, ending up second with a 1m44.569s in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Antonio Garcia was another 0.069s back in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R. Ross Gunn (No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3) and Patrick Pilet (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) were ninth and 10th overall.

It was a battle of BMWs for bragging rights in GTD, but this time it was Madison Snow at the top in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 over yesterday’s quick driver, Patrick Gallagher in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport machine. Snow’s 1m44.642s lap, a 112.5mph average over the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit, was 0.069s better than Gallagher.

Mikael Grenier was third in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes AMG at 1m45.044s, just ahead of Russell Ward in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG. The Mercedes AMGs received a larger air intake restrictor for VIR, but also received a little extra weight, and the change seems to have helped the cars, with the three in the field landing in the top seven. Loris Spinelli In the No. 78 Forte Racing Powered by USRT Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 rounded out the top five in GTD.

UP NEXT: Qualifying at 3:45pm ET, carried live on


Story originally appeared on Racer