The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is heading to the Georgia for the 23rd running of the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, October 15-17.
- Konica Minolta Cadillac drivers Van Der Zande and Briscoe lead points
- Derani second in points
- Vautier in Mustang Sampling Cadillac with Duval
- Aubry, Miller and Leist in JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac
Cadillac Racing drivers dominate the top row of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship driver’s points standings. Konica Minolta Cadillac drivers Renger Van Der Zande and Ryan Briscoe lead the DPi points (180) with Whelen Engineering Cadillac’s Pipo Derani second (177). Only nine points separate the top five in IMSA’s fastest class. Cadillac leads the manufacturer championship with three races left on the IMSA WeatherTech schedule.
Petit Le Mans has become one of the crown jewels of endurance racing. Founded by Don Panoz in 1998, the grueling 10-hours of racing is done over Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s 2.54 mile, 12-turn undulating road course located 45-minutes north of Atlanta.
Renger Van Der Zande and Ryan Briscoe come into the third to the last event on the calendar atop the DPi points standings. Wayne Taylor’s Konica Minolta team, one month ago, finished fifth at Road Atlanta when IMSA moved the Six Hours of The Glen race to the Georgia track. IndyCar championship contender Scott Dixon returns to the No. 10 Cadillac for this weekend’s race.
“Petit is one of my favorite events along with Daytona and Sebring,” Van Der Zande said. “The Konica Minolta Cadillac team always does good in longer races. As a team, we execute well as a team. A lot goes into this race with strategy, a lot pit stops, good lap times by the drivers and of course having a fast Cadillac race car.
“This year has been good for us in collecting points and podiums. We felt like we got robbed a little at Road Atlanta last month with that pit lane penalty. The championship is tight, all cars within nine points and that is exciting. We are very focused on doing well and making the most of the weekend.”
Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani were on the podium at the September race in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Derani is second in points with the team poised to take the top spot this weekend with bonus points on the line. Filipe Albuquerque will join the red Cadillac team as the third driver this weekend.
“I feel very confident heading into this weekend,” Nasr said. “This is one of those races that is really high on the list when you talk about endurance racing. It’s a unique track, very fast flowing. I really enjoy driving our No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R around there. We’ve always been strong at Road Atlanta. It is a place that suits our car very well. The team has had some pretty good results in the past and a lot of success. I am very grateful to have won Petit last year and I’m looking forward to getting it on again this year.
“This time it is a 10-hour race, there is a lot that goes into the race itself. We are going to fight for that pole position, which is always a plus. In the race a lot that goes on like tire management, strategy and pit stops. I think we have some good reasons to be fighting for that victory as we are in the hunt for the Championship. We will need a strong result on Saturday to stay in the fight. I feel that Pipo and myself have been a strong pair all year long. And having Filipe Albuquerque in the car gives us three experienced drivers in the Whelen Engineering Cadillac. The goal is to take the 31 car to victory lane.”
JDC-Miller Motorsports since the last race at Mid-Ohio has moved Tristan Vautier over from the 85 to the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Vautier will complete the season with Sebastien Bourdais. Loic Duval, who drove with the team at Daytona, is coming back for Petit this weekend.
“Looking forward to getting back to Road Atlanta, although it has only been a month since we were there last,” Vautier said. “I am looking forward to being in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac for the last three races. This comes as more of a challenge with a lot of responsibility as the car is still in the championship hunt. I am looking forward to taking this on and helping Seb to win the championship. Thanks to the team and Mustang Sampling for brining me into the car.”
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsport Cadillac DPi-V.R will have Gabriel Aubry, Chris Miller and Matheus Leist in the car for this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Gabriel and Matheus and think we can have a strong run,” Miller said. “Gabriel was very impressive at Mid-Ohio before some bad luck took them out of the race so I’m excited to team up with him for the first time. Matheus is fast and a great teammate so it will be great to have him back in the car to try to build on what we learned and were able to achieve together at Daytona. Petit is so fast paced that there is really never a moment to relax in the race. You need a car that the drivers feel comfortable with because you are constantly passing cars and traffic management is so important. It’s such a fun racetrack to drive with a high downforce car like our Cadillac DPi.
“I’ve driven a lot of races at Road Atlanta in a lot of different cars and it always seems to throw a few curve balls at you. The weather often factors in so I am very glad that the Cadillac has a roof and always performs great in the rain! I can remember one year with an open cockpit car the rain was so intense that I was trying to scoop water out of my lap and the seat while we were under caution. Regardless of what happens I know our JDC-Miller Motorsports guys will be prepared!”
Cadillac Petit Le Mans Driver Line-up:No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, Renger Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, and Scott DixonNo. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, and Filipe AlbuquerqueNo. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Sebastian Bourdais, Tristan Vautier, and Loic DuvalNo. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R, Gabriel Aubry, Chris Miller, and Matheus Leist
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince/Cadillac