Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) are heading west to Monterey, California looking to capture their second win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship Oct. 30 – Nov. 1.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Action Express team is coming off its sixth straight Top Five finish and the team continues to turn out strong performances. In fact, the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R looked poised to win the last round – or at least finish on the podium. But with 12 minutes left in that race, the No. 7 Acura made contact with the No. 31 which forced the Cadillac off track resulting in a fifth-place finish.
However, it will take another strong performance at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to keep the team’s Championship hopes alive. The team and Derani are just 12 points behind in the Team and Drivers’ Championship leaders, respectively, with two races to go. In 2018, Derani won this race. So, he’s quite familiar with the quickest way around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn undulating road course.
“We are definitely looking forward to the next race,” Derani said. “We should be leading the Championship heading into Laguna. But unfortunately, with the outcome of the last race at Road Atlanta, it means we go into the last two races of the season with a 12-point deficit. This means we’re going to go all in. There’s nothing else to lose.
“Talking about Laguna, I won there in 2018. I think it’s a really nice track, with a lot of great corners – especially the Corkscrew. We think we’re going to have a good car. But, it definitely won’t be as quick as the Acura. We think they’re going to have the pace, like they did last year. Nevertheless, we’re going in with the attitude expecting to win and do our best. We’re going to go for it. I’m really.”
“Laguna Seca is a pretty unique track,” Nasr said. “I love where the track’s located. It’s a remarkable place to go. It’s still sad not to have the fans around us because Laguna is always an enjoyable place to have them around. This is a track that’s difficult to set up the car properly because the track itself has pretty low grip. It requires the car to have a lot of downforce as well. We need to maximize the downforce there.
“The goal hasn’t changed for us. We need to maximize our performance in the two final events. I think Laguna does not favor our car over a one lap pace. But, I think we have a pretty good Cadillac over a stint and that’s what matters – the race itself. It’s a sprint race so it still makes qualifying really important. After what happened at the last race at Road Atlanta, we need to have a strong race this weekend. We thought we’d be higher up in the Championship heading into Laguna. But, you never know – racing is racing. All it takes is one of those leader cars to have one bad race and we’re back in the game. All we can do is go out there and maximize our performance on the track.”
The weekend’s first practice starts at 8 a.m. (PST) Saturday, Oct. 31, followed by practice #2 (DPi/GTLM) at 12:15 p.m. DPi/LMP2 qualifying gets underway at 9:20 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1. The green flag drops on the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship race at 1:05 p.m.
Source. Adam Horn/Photo Brian Cleary