Pipo Derani captured the pole for this evening’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring, turning a lap of 1m46.733s in the No. 31 Action Express Racing/Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R he will share with Felipe Nasr, comfortably leading the field for Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“Believe it or not, this is my first pole at Sebring,” said Derani, a three-time winner of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. “I’m super-proud of the team. We’ve had a very difficult beginning of the season, but we kept fighting.
“Man, the Whelen Engineering Cadillac was on rails today. It helps a little bit to start in the front – especially in a two-hour, 40-minute race. But that doesn’t guarantee us the win. It’s been a long time since we last stood on that podium.”
Juan Pablo Montoya briefly led the session but had to settle for second, .216s back in the No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPi.
Renger van der Zande was third, .377s behind in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac, and will be joined on the second row by Tristan Nunez, .467s back in the No. 77 Mazda DPi.
Sebastien Bourdais will start fifth in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC Miller Cadillac, followed by Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura.
“We were expecting Acuras and Mazdas to be on pole,” Derani said. “It was tight, but we managed to put a really good lap in. But you never know for the race. Those guys have so much in their pocket. We show everything we have, all the time, but that’s not the case for them. I’m sure they’re going to come out strong for the race.”
Corvette Racing went 1-2 in GT Le Mans, led by Jordan Taylor’s pole lap of 1m55.634s in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R. He edged teammate Oliver Gavin by .381s, with the qualifiers swapped from their front row sweep at Daytona two weeks ago.
“This was a little bit unexpected,” said Taylor, recording his 11th IMSA pole but first in GTLM. “At Daytona, we had a lot of data to go by to improve the car, just because we had been there for the Rolex 24 and the Roar. Coming here was a big unknown. We did do two days of private testing, but we didn’t know where everybody else was, or where our (relative) strengths or weaknesses would be.”
Taylor credited Corvette Racing with a big turnaround from the morning practice session.
“This morning, we were a little off the pace, the balance of the car was off (and it was) difficult to drive,” Taylor explained. “The guys made a lot of big changes for qualifying, though, and the car was super-nice to drive. I’m excited, but the race is going to be a much different story with what weather might come later today.”
The Porsche GT team took the second row, with Fred Makowiecki at 1m56.079s in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19, followed by Laurens Vanthoor, -.764s in the No. 912.
BMW Team RLL, which was at the back in both practice sessions, waited until the final four minutes to join the session. Jesse Krohn will start fifth, .986s back in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, followed by Bruno Spengler, -1.275s behind in team’s No. 25.
GT Daytona saw AIM Vasser Sullivan going 1-2, with Frankie Montecalvo (2m01.190s in the No 12 Lexus RC F GT3) edging teammate Aaron Telitz (-.067s in the No. 14) for the pole. The pair are looking to repeat their 1-2 showing in the recent Daytona 240, where the No. 14 took the checkered flag.
“The only thing that would feel better would be getting the win,” said Montecalvo, collecting his first IMSA pole. “We rolled off the truck extremely well. The AVS crew has been working hard, and keeping that momentum definitely shows. We had a 1-2 finish at Daytona, and a 1-2 qualifier today, swapped around from Daytona.
“It’s going to come down to strategy,” Montecalvo added. “I think we’re going to be strong in the wet or dry.”
Cooper MacNeil will start third, .879s back in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO. He will share the second row with Robbie Foley, .908s behind in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport Liqui Moly BMW M6 GT3.
Patrick Kelly won the LMP2 pole in the No. 52 PR1 Mathieson Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07-Gibson, running 1m51.526s in dominating the session. Henrik Hedman was second in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA, .559s back, followed by Cameron Cassels, -1.155s in the No. 38 Performance Tech Moorsports ORECA.
“The track was really hot, so I figured I would have 2-3 laps before the tires started falling off,” said Kelly, winning his first pole. “I caught traffic on my second lap, so I cooled the car down and then I went for it.
“I sure hope it stays dry tonight. If it doesn’t, my strategy is I just want to keep my nose clean, turn consistent laps and let the result come to me, rather than demonstrating any heroics.”
Qualifying was held under partly cloudy skies, with 88-degree temperatures. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for later in the afternoon, although the latest radar shows the bulk of the activity to the south of the circuit.
UP NEXT: The Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring is set to take the green flag at 5:35 p.m. ET.