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Derani Leads Fastest Field in History to Rolex 24 Pole

Pipo Derani celebrating his record setting pole. (Photo: Jared Bokanoski | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – What happens when you combine perfect weather conditions with a second year of a new motorsports class? Track records get broken. 

When the final GTP exclusive practice ran on Sunday for the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship, there was an immediate realization as to the possibility of a new track record as four of the ten GTPs in the field for this year’s Rolex 24 unofficially topped the then still official track record set by Oliver Jarvis and Mazda Team Joest in 2019. 

The record threatening pace would unfortunately not be the only story throughout the brief twenty-five minute warmup session as Proton Competition’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling Porsche 963 driven by Neel Jani would find itself sustaining damage after an incident trying to get around Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, leading to the team sitting out the battle to lead the field to green. 

The official qualifying session would see 2023 series champions Pipo Derani and Action Express racing take the top spot, not just breaking the 1:33.685 record set by Jarvis in 2019, but outright smashing it, going not only over a second faster than Jarvis’ 2019 time with a 1:32.656, but going almost two seconds faster than 2023’s pole time set by Tom Blomqvist and Meyer-Shank Racing. 

However, Derani would not be the only driver to crack the track record open all nine GTP entries that took to the track would clear it, as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais would finish runner-up to Derani by less than a tenth of a second, as multiple drivers would lead throughout the 15 minute qualifying session, with the No. 25 BMW Team RLL entry piloted by Connor De Phillipi would see himself to the top of the board for a duration of the session, whilst his teammate in the No. 24 of Jesse Krohn would slot into the eighth spot.  

Wayne Taylor Racing’s pair of Acura ARX-06’s being piloted by Louis Deletraz and Felipe Albuquerque would see themselves slot into the middle of the pecking order with starting positions of fifth and sixth respectively. 

Porsche carried the biggest mixed bag of the session seeing Felipe Nasr take his Porsche Penske Motorsports entry to third position, whilst teammate Nick Tandy in the No. 7 would find himself further down the grid in seventh, as their customer entry in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports machine piloted by Tijmen van der Helm would round out the running order in the ninth position. 

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