Pipo Derani buries Penske Team in Detroit
On a four-minute sprint following a brief red flag due to an incident involving the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 car of Robert Alon, Derani shot to the top of the charts with a lap of one minute, 22.273 seconds (102.828 mph). The Brazilian then managed to hold on for the pole, ending a two-race stranglehold atop the Prototype charts by Acura Team Penske.
In fact, Derani’s lap was an impressive 0.719 seconds ahead of runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, 1:22.992, and a full second ahead of Helio Castroneves’ No. 7 Acura DPi, who qualified third with a lap of 1:23.275.
“You know, that shows that we've been working really hard,” said Derani, who scored his second career WeatherTech Championship pole. “The level of IMSA has been incredibly high and to be able to put it on pole here against well-known teams, it's very rewarding.
“We’ve been working really hard and it's nice to see that the work has been paying off in terms of speed, and we're showing that we can go head-to-head with these guys. So hopefully tomorrow we have a clean race. Starting from pole definitely helps.”
Derani will be joined Saturday by co-driver Johannes van Overbeek. The duo won earlier this season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, joined in that race by endurance teammate Nicolas Lapierre.
The normally 15-minute qualifying session was shortened to 12 minutes due to track cleanup following an incident in the session prior for another series. The green flag time was shortened even more when Alon hit the barrier at the exit of Turn 4 five minutes into the session. Alon was able to drive to the pits with an askew rear wing, but the session was halted briefly to remove debris from the track.
Bryan Sellers definitely seems to know the quick way around street circuits, and he proved it again in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class qualifying for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.
Piloting the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, Sellers captured the Motul Pole Award on Friday afternoon after posting the fastest lap of one minute, 28.942 seconds (95.117 mph) at the 2.3-mile Belle Isle Park street circuit in Detroit.
Sellers will lead the GTD field to green on Saturday afternoon before handing the reins over to co-driver Madison Snow in the 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, which will be televised live on FS2 at 12:30 p.m. ET. A re-air of the race is set for Sunday, June 3 on FS1 at 8:30 a.m.
The pole is Sellers’ third in the WeatherTech Championship, with the previous two also coming at street circuits – in 2016 at Belle Isle and at the 2017 BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. The pole continues the momentum for Paul Miller Racing, as the team won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March and has finished on the podium in each of the three GTD races so far in 2018.
“When we finished the second session, we thought there was no way we would even be close to this but getting in clear air is a huge advantage here,” Sellers said. “It gives you an opportunity to gain and gain and gain and luckily at three, four, five laps all on my own where I could just work on it, the last lap was just the right way. I got it all put together – how I wanted, when I wanted – and the crew did a great job on the car. We struggled in the second session with balance, but the temperatures came down and I think it all came into our hand a little bit.”
Cooper MacNeil in the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and Dominik Baumann in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 also took turns atop the leaderboard in the slightly shortened qualifying session. Typically 15 minutes in duration, qualifying on Friday afternoon was reduced to 12 minutes due to track cleanup following an incident in the session prior for another series.
Meyer Shank Racing’s two Acura NSX GT3s will start behind the No. 48 Lamborghini – the No. 86 of Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher, followed by the No. 93 of Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks. Legge is a defending winner of the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, while Farnbacher won the GTD race at Belle Isle in 2015.
Additionally, both Lexus RC F GT3s from 3GT Racing qualified fourth and fifth, the No. 14 of Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli – winners of the most recent GTD race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early May – and the No. 15 of Jack Hawksworth and David Heinemeier Hansson, respectively.
The No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of John Potter and Andy Lally was the only GTD car to not participate in qualifying. Damage from an incident earlier Friday afternoon in Practice 2 forced the team to forgo qualifying to repair the car. Lally and Potter will start Saturday’s race from the back of the 12-car field. Lally co-drove to the GTD victory last year with Legge.
Pipo Derani | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
It was a difficult day for us, but a rewarding one. We started the day with a car that was a bit off. We were in the back of the pack in the first practice session and we just improved from one session to another. When things happen like that, it’s very rewarding. To put it on pole shows that every single comment Johannes and I made, and every single input that the engineers and mechanics made on the car were in the right direction. It’s great when you work with people like that. It’s nice to finish my first day in Detroit on pole position. We’ve still only completed half of the job, and we still have to do a better job tomorrow to keep the car up front tomorrow.
Johannes van Overbeek | No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi
Pipo did an awesome job. Qualifying was interrupted and he only had a lap and a half to make it happen, and he did. It was very impressive, and we’re in the best possible starting position tomorrow. We’ll see how it plays out.
Scott Sharp | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
Awesome job by everyone on Tequila Patrón ESM. We had a huge rebound from where we started today. Congratulations to Pipo and everyone on the No. 22 on a killer qualifying lap!
Ryan Dalziel | No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi
It was a good day for the No. 22 car. Pipo had a heck of a lap when he needed to. It wasn’t an easy session. It’ll be interesting to see how the race plays out. We were doing a little bit of a split strategy between the cars. We have been following the No. 22’s lead through practice, so we’ll see what I have when I jump in the car tomorrow. Based on their pace, I think we’re in pretty good shape to get the Tequila Patrón cars up front.
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