Two drivers that have already proven their mettle in qualifying this season will be sitting on pole for Saturday’s 1h40m IMSA SportsCar Grand Prix of Long Beach. Pipo Derani scored his third consecutive pole of 2024 to head GTP, while Parker Thompson claimed his second GTD pole following his qualifying performance for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Derani ended qualifying for the third round of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with a slightly rearranged nose on the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R after setting his 1m11.388s (99.24mph) time early in the session before the crew slapped on a new set of tires. But while going for another flyer, he nosed it into the Turn 9 tire wall. Fortunately he was able to reverse quickly – something he and his engineers had discussed during the track walk – and avoided causing a red flag that would also cost him his fast lap.

Nick Yelloly and Sebastien Bourdais were on different qualifying strategies, both waiting until late in the session to emerge from the pits and attempt to put in a lap. Yelloly fell a mere 0.009s short of grabbing the pole for the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8, which will start on the outside of the second row.

The late-session strategy nearly bit Bourdais, who had a fast lap balked by Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 5 Proton Competition Porsche 963, which has struggled for pace all day. He started his next lap with only seconds left in the session, and posted a 1m11.411s time in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, 0.023s off pole, to start on the inside of the second row.

“It’s it’s a street track and it’s a very difficult one to pass on, so I’m happy with the lap,” said Derani. “I did it early in the session, and some guys left it to try towards the end, but the lap seemed to be enough – just enough – for pole, which was good. But yeah, on a street track like this in 100 minute race it’s always important to start off on pole.”

Nick Tandy, the defending Long Beach winner with Mathieu Jaminet in the No, 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963, will start outside the second row.

Tandy’s teammate Dane Cameron put the No. 7 PPM 963 on the inside of the third row, and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti finally found enough pace for Jordan Taylor to qualify the No. 40 Acura ARX-06 in sixth. The GTP field, minus the No. 5 Porsche, was separated by only 0.611s.

Despite good conditions that led to a new track record in GTD, as well as a softer Michelin tire, Derani’s time was nearly 1.5s off Filipe Albuquerque’s pole time from last year, which Derani put down to track conditions.

“I don’t know … We had the same at Sebring,” Derani said. “We were slower than last year, but I believe it’s mostly down to track conditions, and at Sebring we had a short qualifying session due to the red flags. But here it could be down to just the rubber that’s been laid down by the Indy cars and the other categories as well. I quite honestly didn’t feel like the track evolved as much as it did last year.”

Vasser Sullivan Racing and Lexus’s plan to split its drivers and run a second GTD car paid off as it was a Lexus 1-2 in qualifying. Parker Thompson got the better of his usual co-driver Frankie Montecalvo, putting the No. 89 Lexus RC F GT3 on pole with a 1m17.357s (91.59mph) lap, a new GTD record. It was Thompson’s second pole of the season, and Lexus’s first at Long Beach.

“There was a lot of pressure today,” declared Thompson. “Practice two, we did a qualifying sim and I thought that we were going to have to work really hard for that pole. We still had to work hard for it, but to be 1-2, really proud. That just shows how good our Lexus is around Long Beach. Awesome to get Frankie up there too. He’s obviously my full-time teammate, so it’s a little bittersweet because I love to take a pole but he’s been working really hard this year with me, and now with Jack Hawksworth, to make sure that he’s up at the front. Great to sweep the front row, but it’s only half the job.”

Montecalvo was 0.262s off Thompson’s best in the all-Lexus front row in the No. 12. The two drivers are teamed with last year’s long Beach winners in GTD PRO, Ben Barnicoat in the No. 12 and Jack Hawksworth in the No. 89.

Albert Costa Balboa had a 1m17.679s in the No. 34 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 to claim the inside of the second row, and Roman De Angelis will start the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo to his right. Row three as the GTDs roll to the green will be the No. 45 WTRAndretti Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 (Danny Formal) and the No. 32 Korthoff Preston Motorsports Mercedes AMG (Mikael Grenier), freshly repaired from its shunt in the first practice. The team reports that most of the left side of the car was replaced, as well as some major parts like the splitter.

With the exception of Costa, De Angelis, and Grenier, it was the Am drivers qualifying in GTD, creating the greatest range in lap times of any session so far.

Stevan McAleer set the quickest GTD lap in the second practice, but it was all the car had – Sheena Monk didn’t get to qualify the No. 66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 because the Gradient Racing crew was changing the engine. With no warmup prior to the race, the first time that new engine will run is on the recon lap prior to Saturday’s green flag.

Next: The 1h40m IMSA SportsCar Grand Prix of Long Beach, with green scheduled for 1:35 p.m. local time, 4:35 p.m. ET.