Pipo Derani leads IMSA practice at Mid-Ohio

IMSA Derani practice Mid-Ohio

Pipo Derani turned the fastest lap in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s opening practice Friday for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The driver of the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi lapped the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in 1 minute, 11.846 seconds.

Ricky Taylor (1:12.221) was second in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, followed by Dane Cameron (1:12.501) in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura, Renger van der Zande (1:12.529) in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac and Tristan Vautier (1:12.718) in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac.

Harry Tincknell was sixth (1:12.718) in the No. 55 Mazda as the six DPi entries were within just over a second.

FRIDAY PRACTICE: Click here for the speed chart from Mid-Ohio

IMSA AT MID-OHIO: All the information for watching Sunday’s race

“It feels good, for sure, but I think as we’ve seen here in the past, we’re always quick during practice but come qualifying some of our competitors step up the game,” said Derani, whose team (with co-driver Felipe Nasr) is off to a tough start this season with a crash in the Twelve Hours of Sebring and mechanical woes in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. “Part of the job is just focusing on our own and if we do everything we can on our own, we’ll be good.”

Acuras have won the past three races at the Lexington, Ohio, track, and Derani said he was fortunate to beat Taylor and Cameron in practice.

“It was lucky,” Derani said “Just got a clear lap in the end and were able to put a lap in. Always good to have that feeling back after two months away (between races). This is why we do this. The feeling that you have inside the car of pushing it to the limit is just something that you can’t describe.

“Great to be back. We’ve had a difficult start to the season but the pleasure behind the wheel is always fantastic. Good start to the weekend.”

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is returning this weekend at Mid-Ohio after a two-month break (because of the rescheduling of Long Beach and Laguna Seca).

In other divisions:

–LMP3: Colin Braun was fastest (1:17.240), in the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320.

–GTD: Jack Hawksworth, the defending race winner with co-driver Aaron Telitz, was fastest in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 (1:20.513).

There will be another practice at 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday and qualifying at 12:20 p.m. Sunday’s race will be at 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN).

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change