Pipo Derani: Finally winning Petit Le Mans is 'fantastic'

Pipo Derani brought the Whelen Engineering Cadillac across the line in the dramatic finale of last weekend's Motul Petit Le Mans, claiming his first victory in IMSA's traditional season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Derani was in second place behind team-mate Filipe Albuquerque's #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac until Albuquerque suffered a late brake failure, dropping them down to seventh as Derani took victory. 

“I’ve been trying to win this race for the last three years,” Derani said. “I finished second on my first time here in 2016, and last year I was close for the overall win and it slipped away in the last few minutes on both occasions. To finally have it this year is fantastic."

The victory was not enough for the #31 Whelen Engineering crew to take the championship, as the #6 Acura Team Penske of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud finished fourth. The leading duo of Cameron and Montoya needed to finish eighth or higher to claim the title, and made no mistakes en route to the top prize.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t take the full championship,” Derani added, “but we’ll take a strong end to our season that can hopefully be the success we carry on for next year.

Derani, Nasr and Curran took their second win of the season, adding another major milestone as the trio also took victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

Issue 337 of Motorsport Monday

“I’m pretty happy with the final result and the victory itself,” said added Felipe Nasr who led the way from pole position with a supreme opening stint. 

“Just looking back at how the weekend started, from the time we hit the track, the work we did through every session, Action Express Racing did an amazing job to get the car together in every kind of condition out there.”