Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Derani lap record highlights Watkins Glen qualifying

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A morning rain shower presented a chance that qualifying for Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen might be held on a wet track. However, following the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge race on Saturday morning, the track was dry enough for slick tires during qualifying.

Some damp spots persisted on the 3.40-mile road course, which made for some challenging moments, especially early in qualifying, but it also saw a couple of blistering performances for some drivers.

Quick reports are below.

 

PROTOTYPE

“The Derani Effect” was in full force in the Prototype class, as Pipo Derani set a lap record to score the Prototype and overall pole for Tequila Patron ESM, his first career pole in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Derani’s best lap of 1:34.405 was a little over a tenth of a second ahead of second-place Olivier Pla in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LMP2, while Christian Fittipaldi took third in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi for Action Express. Ricky Taylor qualified fourth in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi.

 

PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE

A straightforward session in Prototype Challenge saw James French put the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry on pole, with a fastest lap of 1:40.049 in his Oreca FLM09. He led the Bar1 Motorsports duo of Don Yount (No. 20) and Brian Alder (No. 26), with Alder briefly spinning as time expired.

GTLM

A frantic session saw the top spot change hands about every time a car crossed the start/finish line. However, it was Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford GT who secured pole with a blistering lap time of 1:42.507, nearly three tenths of a second up on second-place Alex Sims in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M6 GTLM. Teammate Martin Tomczyk put the No. 25 BMW in third.

 

GT DAYTONA

New York native Andy Lally grabbed pole in the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with a best lap of 1:46.051, eclipsing Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 57 Steven Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 by more than two tenths of a second. Jack Hawksworth qualified third in the No. 15 Lexus RCF GT3 for 3GT Racing.

However, the session was far from clean for the 3GT squad, as both cars spun exiting turn nine in separate incidents. Hawksworth was lucky to only brush the outside wall with the back of the car and was able to return to the pits. However, the No. 14 entry, in the hands of Sage Karam, was not as fortunate, as Karam bounced off the inside wall with the front of the car, ripping the front bodywork completely off the chassis. Karam was not hurt in the incident, but it did end the session prematurely as it occurred in the final minutes.

Also of note: NBCSN’s Townsend Bell, piloting the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3, suffered gearbox problems that limited his running. He will start 16th in class.

Qualifying results can be viewed here. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen begins Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET.

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Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.