Pipo Derani snuck in a late flyer during an abbreviated Prototype qualifying session at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park to steal the pole away from Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05 duo that previously dominated the day.
Derani’s best lap in his No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi topped the timesheet at 1:22.273 once final laps were all turned in, besting Juan Pablo Montoya’s effort in the top Acura DPi by 0.719 seconds.
Both Acuras returned to the track after a red-flag period upon taking note of Derani’s speed, but Derani and the Nissan ultimately came out on top, denying Acura and Penske their second consecutive front-row lockout after their dominant weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Montoya, who trailed teammate Helio Castroneves earlier in the session, went quicker than his Brazilian teammate to qualify second in the No. 6 Acura at 1:22.992.
Joao Barbosa put his Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R into the top five with the fourth-fastest lap. Just 0.003 seconds off Castroneves’ time, Barbosa was a tenth of a second quicker than fifth-fastest Misha Goikhberg.
Goikhberg’s 1:23.384 in JDC-Miller Motorsports’ No. 99 ORECA 07 was the best qualifying effort by an LMP2 car.
Eric Curran, Renger van der Zande, Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito and Scott Sharp completed the top 10.
Robert Alon set the eighth-fastest time of the session, which was delayed due to lightning in the area, but he cost the No. 85 ORECA its two fastest laps as he brought out the aforementioned red flag when he struck the Turn 4 wall, spreading debris on the track and heavily damaging the Gibson-powered, LMP2-style car.
Derani will lead the 14-car Prototype field to the green flag Saturday at 12:40 p.m. EDT with live coverage beginning 10 minutes earlier on FOX Sports 2.