Pipo Derani got the IMSA Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Detroit Grand Prix off to a fast start on the 2.35-mile Belle IsIe street circuit with Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi. Derani’s lap of 1m20.583s was a full second quicker than the DPi track record — impressive right out of the gate on the notoriously bumpy street course. Perhaps even more impressively, though, the Brazilian implied he hadn’t been pushing too hard.
“It’s never easy to come into a track like this with the walls right next to you,” Derani told IMSA Radio. “You definitely have to wake up quickly and make sure you don’t put the car in the wall because it’s definitely the wrong weekend for you to crash in the first practice, so you definitely put a little more focus on a track like this, for sure.”
Ricky Taylor was just 0.252s behind Derani with the No. 7 Acura Team Penske entry, ahead of Felipe Albuquerque in the second AXR Cadillac, 0.863s behind his teammate.
Both Mazda DPi entries failed to set a flying lap, encountering separate undisclosed mechanical issues. They have plenty of time remaining to sort them, though, with a two-hour practice session this afternoon ahead of qualifying later in the day.
Katherine Legge set the fast time in the GTD ranks, her 1m30.304s in the Meyer Shank Acura NSX GT3 she is sharing with Christina Nielsen topping Bryan Sellers, in the Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan, by 0.243s. Zacherie Robichon, in the No. 73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 R, was third fastest at 1m30.584s.
Matt Plumb lost a door on the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S in a collision at Turn 1 with the No. 85 Prototype of Misha Goikhberg, triggering a brief red flag stoppage, although both cars are expected to be back out this afternoon.
UP NEXT: Practice 2 at 12:40 p.m. ET.