Luis Felipe Derani took pole position for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Road Atlanta on Friday, with the Brazilian giving Tequila Patron ESM top spot ahead of the two Mazda Team Joest entries.
BMW Team RLL took the honours in the GT Le Mans class ahead of the championship leaders from Corvette Racing, while the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari will lead the GT Daytona class to the start.
Luis Felipe Derani’s lap of 1:10.437 was enough to give the #22 Tequila Patron ESM the pole position for Petit Le Mans, with the Brazilian ending 0.124 seconds clear of the #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis, and 0.163 seconds ahead of the #55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito in third.
“In any race, it’s important to start up front, but this one has a special feeling, especially for myself,” said Derani. “This is my last race with the team, and ESM’s last race with Tequila Patrón.
“It’s very emotional for the entire team, and it shows how hard we’ve been working the last three years. When I joined the team, we had lots of highs. What a better way to finish an era than to start on pole!
“We still have the race tomorrow, but I’m happy and grateful for the car they’ve given me to get on pole position.”
The second Tequila Patron ESM, the #2 of Norman Nato, will start fourth ahead of the #7 Acura Team Penske of Ricky Taylor, with the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac of Filipe Albuquerque sixth.
The #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca of Simon Trummer was seventh fastest ahead of the second Acura Team Penske of Juan Pablo Montoya, while the two championship contenders, the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, and the #54 CORE Autosport Oreca of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, rounded out the top ten.
GT Le Mans
John Edwards gave the #24 BMW Team RLL outfit pole position in GT Le Mans, with the American racer setting a best time of 1:17.006, just 0.024 seconds clear of Antonio Garcia in the championship-leader #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet.
“I definitely can’t set that kind of lap on my own, so a huge thanks to the team for giving me a solid car,” said Edwards. “I think our qualifying set-up and tyre choice was pretty aggressive.
“The BMW M8 GTE and I were on the edge, so I definitely had to manage that, but it was quick. I don’t think we’ll be driving like that for ten hours but during night practice we had some fast consistent long runs, so I think during the race we can settle into a nice stable car and pace.
“I think we’ll be pretty strong tomorrow and now it all comes down to execution.”
Garcia and Jan Magnussen need a podium finish on Saturday to claim a second consecutive title and have given themselves a good starting point, finishing ahead of the #912 Porsche GT of Earl Bamber and the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing machine of Richard Westbrook.
The second Porsche, the #911 of Patrick Pilet, will line-up fifth ahead of the second Ford, the #66 of Joey Hand, while the #25 BMW, #4 Corvette and the #63 Risi Competition Ferrari round out the nine-car field.
Daniel Serra set a GT Daytona track record around Road Atlanta to take pole position in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, with the Brazilian’s time of 1:19.695 denying Jack Hawksworth in the #15 3GT Racing Lexus by 0.037 seconds, while the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of Sheldon van der Linde by a further 0.012 seconds.
Mario Farnbacher put the #93 Meyer Shank Racing Acura fourth, while the two championship contenders finished fifth and sixth respectively, the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis just ahead of the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura of Alvaro Parente, Katherine Legge and Trent Hindman.
Sellers and Snow have the advantage in the championship, sitting six points ahead of Legge heading into this weekend’s season finale.
The #64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni qualified seventh ahead of the #14 3GT Racing Lexus of Dominik Baumann, while the #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes and the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes completed the top ten.