Derani Claims Pole For Grand Prix Of Sebring

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Pipo Derani secured the pole for Saturday's Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring at Sebring Int'l Raceway.
Pipo Derani secured the pole for Saturday's Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring at Sebring Int'l Raceway.

SEBRING, Fla. – Pipo Derani has won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts three times. On Saturday afternoon, he won a pole position at Sebring Int’l Raceway for the first time.

Derani earned the top starting spot for Saturday’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring with a lap of 1:46.733 around the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

He and teammate Felipe Nasr will try to win the race when the green flag flies at 5:40 p.m. ET.

“It’s fantastic to be on pole,” Derani said. “I’m super proud of the team. We’ve had a difficult start to the season, but nevertheless we kept fighting. We have a strong car. (It) was on rails. I managed to put it in on my first lap. It helps a little bit to start up front, especially on a two-hour and 40-minute race, but that doesn’t guarantee us the win.”

Derani claimed the pole over Juan Pablo Montoya, who recorded a lap of 1:46.949 in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi he shares with Dane Cameron.

Meanwhile, Patrick Kelly secured the No. 1 starting position in LMP2 with a lap of 1:51.526 in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 he’ll share with Simon Trummer. That was just 0.559 seconds faster than Henrik Hedman’s lap in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA.

Like other drivers in Saturday’s race, Kelly, whose car will start ninth overall, expressed concern about the weather; forecasts indicate a possibility of scattered thunderstorms in the area.

“Boy, I sure hope it stays dry,” he said. “If it doesn’t, my strategy is just keep your nose clean and try to turn consistent laps. In that way, I hope a result comes to me rather than try to demonstrate any heroics.”

Jordan Taylor led a sweep by Corvette Racing in GTLM, wheeling the team’s No. 3 Corvette C8.R he’ll share with Antonio Garcia around the circuit in 1:55.634. The No. 4 Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner will start second in class after Gavin’s qualifying lap of 1:56.015.

Taylor said the team wasn’t quite sure how they would compare with others at Sebring, the first track outside of Daytona International Speedway this season.

“Coming here, it was a big unknown,” Taylor said. “Obviously, we did two days of testing, but that was private testing. We didn’t know how quick everyone else would be and where our strengths and weaknesses would be.”

In the GTD class, AIM Vasser Sullivan drivers swept the first two qualifying positions in the team’s Lexus RC F GT3s. Frankie Montecalvo, who shares the No. 12 car with Townsend Bell, won the class pole with a lap of 2:01.190. Aaron Telitz, teaming with Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Lexus, secured the second starting position with a lap of 2:01.257.

“It was great,” said Montecalvo. “The only thing that would feel better is getting that race win later today. I’m pretty excited about that.”