It would be Pipo Derani who took his and the #22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi‘s first pole position of the year at the Belle Isle Street Course. While the #22 has already won one IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship race this season, two retirements from the first three races means the Derani and Johannes van Overbeek have a lot of ground to make up.
With the GT Le Mans class mostly in France preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a reduced field of just Prototypes and GT Daytona’s hit the Detroit streets.
Pole: Derani & Van Overbeek – Tequila Patron ESM – Nissan DPi
It proved to be one of the most dramatic IMSA qualifying sessions of the year though, with a red flag initially caused when Robert Alon in the #85 JDC-Miller Racing Oreca 07 oversteered into turn 4, sliding into the barrier on the exit before they could set a time. With the Oreca unable to move all the cars were called back into the pits.
While the red flag was out though, the #7 Acura Team Penske, along with the #55 and #77 Mazda Team Joest cars all trundled to the end of the pitlane in preparation for the green light. The misdemeanor landed them all a drive-through penalty.
Further drama saw Helio Castroneves hit the #2 Tequila Patron ESM on their final flying lap, but this would hardly affect the #7 Acura DPi, working its way back to the top of the timing sheets. They were joined at the top by the #6 Acura driven by Juan Pablo Montoya and Derani in the #22 Tequila Patron Nissan.
It would be the Nissan who had the last laugh though, taking pole position by 0.719 seconds over Montoya. The top two were the only drivers in the 1 minute 22 second range, with the #7 Acura settling for third just over a second behind the polesitter.
The session would end in more confusion however, as the chequered flag was not shown after the time counted down and the organisers adding a temporary extra 2min 40sec for thirty seconds before removing it.
As a result, fourth would go to the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi finishing just three thousandths of a second behind Castroneves. The third row would be completed by the #99 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 and the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi who have set themselves up to be contenders tomorrow.
Pole: Sellers & Snow – Paul Miller Racing – Lamborghini Hurcan GT3
After the chaos of the Prototype session, all was much calmer in the GTD field, as Bryan Sellers in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Hurican GT3 was the only driver to drop below the 1min 29sec barrier, with an overall pole time of 1min 28.942sec.
It proved to be a championship fight at the front, with Katherine Legge in the #86 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 leading the charge, now partnered with Mario Farnbacher, promoted from the #93 team.
Lawson Aschenbach steps up and with main driver Justin Marks, put the #93 Meyer Shank Racing third on the grid ahead of the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 pair, with the #14 ahead of the #15.