WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) Brazilian driver Pipo Derani earned the pole for the six-hour race at Watkins Glen International, the first for Nissan's Daytona Prototype international car in the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Driving the No. 2 Tequila Patr�n ESM entry in the 15-minute qualifying session, Derani turned a best lap of 1 minute, 34.405 seconds around the 3.4-mile circuit. He edged Olivier Pla in the No. 52 entry by 0.162 seconds to secure the top starting spot in Sunday's race.
''We've been really working hard to get the program to where it should be,'' Derani said. ''I think it's a very big team effort from everyone. We rolled off the truck with a really good car. We only had to do some small setups to the changing conditions. That means it's easier for the drivers where we can work on our corners and hitting our marks.''
Derani opened the season as a part-time driver for both the ESM team in IMSA and the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing program in the FIA World Endurance Championship. However, the team announced earlier this week that Derani will replace retiring driver Ed Brown for the rest of the year.
Christian Fittipaldi qualified third in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi from Action Express Racing, followed by Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac. Ricky Taylor and his brother, Jordan, are going for their sixth consecutive IMSA victory Sunday.
Joey Hand took the pole in the GT Le Mans class in the No. 66 Ford GT for Chip Ganassi Racing. In the GT Daytona class, Andy Lally earned the first pole for the new Acura NSX race car, and James French took his fourth Prototype Challenge pole.
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