Race Weekend Central

Pipo Derani Wins Road America Pole

Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani won the pole Saturday (Aug. 5) for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sprint race at Road America with a lap at 135.272 mph around the 4.048-mile road course. It is the fastest lap in IMSA so far this season and Derani’s second pole of the year (he previously sat on pole at Sebring International Raceway in March).

“Yeah, it is a relief [to start from pole],” Derani told NBC Sports’ Hannah Newhouse afterwards. “With the new pavement, you want to be ahead because it’s hard to overtake the GT [traffic]. It allows you to control the race better.”

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Derani won the pole by .068 seconds over Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Matt Campbell. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais will start third, then Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque. BMW M Team RLL’s Connor de Phillippi was fifth.

PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ben Keating was fastest early on in LMP2, but locked up under braking for turn 8 on his second quick lap. That ultimately compromised his session, preventing the team from taking their third straight LMP2 pole at Road America.

Steven Thomas, driving a repaired No. 11 ORECA 07-Gibson after crashing in the second practice session Friday, put himself at the top of the chart on his second quick lap. He then continued to improve his time.

From the very beginning of the session, Thomas was doing battle with Crowdstrike Racing by APR’s George Kurtz for track position. Eventually, Kurtz found the right place for himself to start putting up quick times. On his sixth lap, Kurtz set a lap at 128.258 mph to win the pole.

Kurtz’s lap was .508 seconds faster than Tower Motorsport’s Rodrigo Sales, who is driving in place of John Farano. Thomas will start in third, then Keating and Era Motorsport’s Dwight Merriman.

Sean Creech Motorsports’ Nico Pino put himself on top in LMP3 as quickly as he could. He was eventually able to improve to a lap at 123.571 mph to win the pole. The lap was a full second and a half faster than the previous LMP3 track record.

That said, Pino’s qualifying session was not completely clean. Just after setting the pole lap, Pino went wide exiting turn 1 and launched his car off the curb into the air. Replays showed all four wheels of Pino’s Ligier JS P320-Nissan in air.

Pino didn’t think that the instance was really worth noting after the session. However, when shown the video of the jump by Newhouse, Pino replied, “Whoa, that’s a big jump.”

Pino’s lap was .930 seconds faster than Jr III Racing’s Bijoy Garg, the current IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge LMP3 points leader who is making his WeatherTech debut this weekend. Riley Motorsports’ Gar Robinson will start third, then Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s Orey Fidani and Ave Motorsports’ Seth Lucas.

With laps taking over two minutes for the GT teams, you don’t get that many chances to set a time on a 4.048-mile road course. In GTD Pro, Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor set a track record on his second lap at speed.

Taylor’s lap was quickly usurped by The Heart of Racing’s Alex Riberas. Riberas was eventually able to improve his lap to an average of 118.557 mph. That held up to give Riberas the class pole. It is the team’s second straight pole as teammate Ross Gunn won the overall pole at Lime Rock.

Riberas won the pole by .057 seconds over WeatherTech Racing’s Daniel Juncadella. Taylor will start third, followed by VasserSullivan’s Jack Hawksworth.

In GTD, US RaceTronics’ Misha Goikhberg was quick early on in his Lamborghini. That particular car had no practice on it after Goikhberg wiped out his primary car in a crash Friday in the opening practice session.

Eventually, Madison Snow put his BMW on top, eventually improving to a lap at 118.198 mph, fourth fastest of all GT drivers. No one could prevent Snow from taking the pole.

Snow’s lap was .091 seconds faster than Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe in a career-best second. VasserSullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo was third, then Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mike Skeen in a repaired Mercedes after a crash on Friday. The Heart of Racing’s Roman DeAngelis will start fifth.

IMSA SportsCar Weekend Qualifying Results

The IMSA SportsCar Weekend main event is scheduled to go green at 11:10 a.m. ET Sunday morning. The race will air live on USA Network starting at 11 a.m. ET.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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