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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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”