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Pipo Derani leads IMSA practice at Mid-Ohio

IMSA Derani practice Mid-Ohio

#31: Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani

LAT Images

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).