Derani Give Nissan DPi its First Pole at The Glen

Derani drives to pole
Derani drives to pole

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – It’s been an eventful week for Tequila Patron ESM and driver Pipo Derani.

On Monday morning, the team announced that Derani would replace Patron Spirits International President and CEO Ed Brown as driver of its No. 22 Nissan DPi race car for the remainder of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. The plans called for Brown to race in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday and then retire from Prototype competition.

Plans changed Thursday morning, when the team announced that – due to unexpected back surgery – Brown would not compete this weekend after all, leaving regular driver Johannes van Overbeek and Brazilian endurance race teammate Bruno Senna to contest the six hours on their own in the No. 22 machine.

On Friday, Derani posted the quickest time in practice aboard the team’s No. 2 Nissan DPi he is sharing this weekend with its regular drivers, Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel. Today, Derani put the car on the pole position for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, beating Olivier Pla in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LM P2 car by a scant 0.162 seconds.

The Brazilian posted a best time of 1 minute, 34.405 seconds (129.6 mph) in the 15-minute session to earn the first TOTAL Pole Award of his WeatherTech Championship career. It also was the first pole for the Nissan DPi program, which debuted in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“It’s special to give Ed (Brown) and the whole team a pole position after all the hard work at the beginning of the year," Derani said. “Not just for us the drivers, but for all the mechanics here and at the shop back at home.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]“I think as we’ve seen today, we’re not the only ones who were quick, and we were right up there with Olivier. Look at how close the DPis are to the P2s here. Each car has its strength and weaknesses. It might be in favor of one or another depending on where you are on the track so I think it’ll be a tough race for us."

Pla will roll off from second on the class grid in the car he shares with Jose Gutierrez following a best qualifying lap of 1:34.567 (129.4 mph). The second row will include a pair of Cadillac DPis, with Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R starting third at 1:35.306 (128.4 mph) and points leader Ricky Taylor qualifying fourth at 1:35.496 (128.1 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Ricky Taylor and his brother, Jordan, are going for their sixth consecutive victory in the WeatherTech Championship during tomorrow’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

The race will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 10 a.m. ET, with continuing coverage on FS2 starting at 1 p.m. The FOX Sports GO app will carry the race from start to finish with FS1 authentication.

Live streaming of in-car cameras and IMSA Radio audio coverage is available on IMSA.com for U.S. viewers, with a complete live stream available for international audiences. IMSA Radio also is available on SiriusXM Radio and RadioLeMans.com.

French, Performance Tech Take Fourth Pole of Prototype Challenge Season

Driver James French and the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports team earned their fourth pole in five qualifying sessions this season in Prototype Challenge (PC) class qualifying. It was the eighth pole of French’s career and the eighth also for the team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

French logged a best lap of 1 minute, 40.049 seconds (122.3 mph) to secure the top starting position. He’ll be joined in Sunday’s race by co-drivers Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson as the team looks to continue its 2017 undefeated record in Sunday’s race.

“Definitely, the goal is another win," French said. “We started out practice with a bit of a nervous car. It was a little more ‘steery’ than we wanted and Pato had a bit of an incident yesterday. The team put what they could into the car overnight, so we went a little more conservative on the setup. It makes it a little easy on us get through traffic tomorrow and play it a little safer knowing we need to survive for six hours."

Hand Puts Ford GT on Pole For Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand
No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand

A rapidly drying Watkins Glen International circuit provided an entertaining battle for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class pole Saturday in qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, with BMW, Ford and Porsche swapping the top spot eight times over the final five minutes of the 15-minute session.

In the end, it was the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Joey Hand who crossed the stripe with the fastest time of 1 minute, 42.507 seconds on the session’s final lap. The pole-winning lap came just seconds after Alexander Sims put down what eventually became the second fastest lap of the session, 1:42.813, in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6.

“I love qualifying here," said Hand, who picked up his 10th career IMSA pole. “Especially since they paved it, it’s super fun to drive. You’ve got to throw down; hang on and throw down. I was able to get just a full lap to finish and got it by just a little bit of a chunk.

“I know it doesn’t totally matter to start on the pole for a six-hour race, but the race competition is always so strong. You want to stay away from the messy stuff in the first couple of hours so that you’re ready when the dog fight starts and you’ve got to go to the finish."

Ford and BMW also will make up the second row for tomorrow’s race. Martin Tomczyk qualified third after a lap of 1:42.881 in BMW Team RLL’s No. 24 BMW M6, just 0.003 seconds ahead of Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, 1:42.884. Patrick Pilet, who led multiple times throughout the session, rounded out the top-five with a lap of 1:43.140 in Porsche GT Team’s No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is Round 3 of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The No. 911 Porsche GT Team and No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT enter the race tied for the points lead in the four-race endurance competition following the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

Lally Scores Acura’s First TOTAL Pole Award At Home Track

One race after scoring its first win in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, Acura picked up its first TOTAL Pole Award in IMSA competition Saturday in qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Andy Lally lapped the 3.4-mile circuit in 1 minute, 46.051 seconds, putting the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 he co-drives with Katherine Legge to the top of the class charts just before a red flag shortened the 15-minute session by two minutes. A native to Long Island, New York, Lally considers Watkins Glen his home track and this weekend sports a paint scheme of the Statue of Liberty in honor of the Independence Day weekend.

It was Lally’s second career pole at Watkins Glen, but his first in WeatherTech Championship competition.

"It’s been quite a nice momentum roll we’ve been on after a hard fought victory," said Lally, who is coming off a win at Detroit alongside Legge, the first win for the Acura NSX GT3. “We had a great strategy call in Detroit, so to follow our first win for the NSX with a pole is really special. It shows how meticulous and nonstop the Michael Shank Racing guys are. We’re working on every single bolt and finding every single bit of performance we can get our hands on."

Lawson Aschenbach qualified second in Stevenson Motorsports’ No. 57 Audi R8 LMS with a lap of 1:46.271, with Jack Hawksworth third in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3.

Hawksworth, on a hot lap with two minutes remaining in the session spun coming out of Turn 9 and suffered minor rear-end damage. His teammate Sage Karam wasn’t as fortunate, however, losing control of the No. 14 Lexus seconds later in the same corner and made hard contact with the barrier. The incident brought out the red flag and an early end to the session.

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen can be seen live tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. on FS1.

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