By Mark Robinson
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Pipo Derani has been down this road before at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course: a quick lap in practice only to be outdone by the competition when it really counts. So, while the co-driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi V.R was happy setting the fastest lap Friday in opening practice for the Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S, he’s holding off on celebrating.
“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,” Derani said after clocking a final lap of 1 minute, 11.846 seconds (113.141 mph) around Mid-Ohio’s tight 2.258-mile circuit. “Part of the job is just focusing on our own and if we do everything we can on our own, we’ll be good.”
Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S: Practice 1 Results
When Derani mentions “competitors,” he’s referring mainly to the Acuras that have won the last three Mid-Ohio races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. In fact, the two Acura ARX-05 DPis in this year’s field – the No. 10 Konica Minolta and No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian – trailed just behind the No. 31 on Friday’s leaderboard. Filipe Albuquerque put in a lap of 1:12.221 (112.554 mph) in the No. 10, with Dane Cameron’s best in the No. 60 at 1:12.501 (112.119 mph).
“It was lucky,” Derani admitted of his pacesetting circuit. “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.”
Colin Braun turned the best lap in Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), 1:17.240 (105.240 mph), in the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320. Jack Hawksworth, the defending GT Daytona (GTD) race champion along with Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, topped his class in practice at 1:20.513 (100.962 mph).
A second practice is scheduled for 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday, ahead of qualifying at 12:20 p.m. (live stream on IMSA.com). Sunday’s race airs live starting at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN and IMSA Radio.