Whelen Engineering Racing drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) look to capture the team’s third straight win at Sebring International Raceway this weekend, as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts Nov. 12 – 14.
Derani and Nasr will be joined by driver Gabby Chaves (Columbia) in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R. Chaves is no stranger to the team. He drove with Derani in the July Daytona race and the pair finished fifth. Unfortunately, Nasr had to miss that race due to COVID-19.
This trio will provide a solid driver lineup in the team’s effort to defend its Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring title from a year ago and in its efforts to return to victory circle for the second time this season. In July, Derani put the No. 31 Cadillac on the pole for the July Sebring race. From there, he and Nasr drove it to victory lane giving the team its first win in 2020.
“It always good to be back at Sebring,” Derani said. “It’s a track I’ve had a lot of success at in the past. The team has done pretty well there the last two races. Usually, we race at Sebring in March, and earlier this year, we raced there in July. So, this time, I think things will be different because we are racing in November and the weather is going to have an influence in terms of performance. However, I’m confident we will have a good car. It’s always good to be going back to a place where the racing is going to be fantastic and a place where we know we’ve been strong. It would be fantastic to bring another win home.”
“I always enjoy driving at Sebring,” Nasr said. “It was one of the first tracks I raced at when I joined the series. When I drove around that track for the first time, ‘I said wow this track is mega.’ We won the race there last year and we won the shorter race we had earlier this year. We surely want to do that again. I think it’s a place that favors our No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Action Express Cadillac with the way we set-up the car. Looking ahead to the weekend, I want to go out there and enjoy every second, enjoy every lap and hopefully fight for the win. I want to make sure we get all of those segments for the endurance race. All we can do is go out there and hopefully see us in victory lane.”
“It’s been a while since I drove the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R at Daytona, but I felt good and comfortable,” Chaves said. “I feel confident I can build on that outing at Sebring. Sebring is an amazing track, and the Whelen Engineering/Action Express Cadillac has had some success there so I am beyond excited to be part of the team for the 12 hour race. Getting three Sebring wins in a row would be an incredible achievement. I will do absolutely everything to my ability to help the team and drivers achieve it.”
Derani has won three of the last four Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring races, including wins in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Last year, Nasr drove to victory lane with co-drivers Derani and Eric Curran. This weekend, Chaves hopes to help make it four Sebring wins in-a-row for the Whelen Engineering/Action Express crew.
Derani (233) and the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team (233) are only nine points behind in the Drivers’ and Team Championship point standings, respectively. Both have a shot at capturing both titles with another Sebring win. But, Derani is more focused on winning the race than scoring championship points because he knows that without a race win it will be harder to overtake the point leaders in front of him.
“We always think about winning the race,” Derani said. “I think that is always the way this team goes racing. It doesn’t matter if we were in the points lead or if we are not, we always try to go for the win. Of course, that’s true maybe a little bit more now, because all we can do now is win. If we don’t win, it doesn’t change anything for us in terms of being able to win the Championship. Action Express always expects to win no matter what. That’s how we’re going to go racing again at Sebring. We might be a little bit more aggressive this time around because we want to take another Sebring win home. That would be fantastic no matter where we finish in the Championship.”
Whelen Engineering and Action Express to Return to IMSA WeatherTech Competition with Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani in 2021
Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani will return in 2021 to the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R to run for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar DPi Championship.
“We are very happy to announce that we will back in 2021 with the same full time, driver line-up as this year,” Gary Nelson, Action Express team manager, said. “We have a great core of technical and mechanical staff who communicate well with our drivers. In racing, people move around a lot, so keeping our core has been one of the keys to our success.
“Felipe and Pipo round out that core. They are both fast and complement each other on and off the track. They are committed to doing what it takes to win, and when we cannot, they maximize our points paying positions on the track. That is how we have dominated the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Championship the last few years. We will again have Mike Conway with us for the longer events. Mike is very familiar with our team and our expectations. We would like to thank Filipe Albuquerque for his contributions to the team and congratulate him on his WEC P2 Championship this season. We wish him the best in the future.”
Whelen Engineering will continue as the team’s primary sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a global leader in the emergency warning industry, and it will enter its fifth year as the title sponsor with Action Express Racing.
“We are also proud to be representing Whelen Engineering on the racetrack again in 2021,” Nelson continued. “Sonny Whelen and the entire Whelen Engineering company is behind our effort and we are looking forward to providing them and their great customers with even more excitement in 2021.”
Nasr has a championship with the team (2018) and will be looking for another one.
“Super excited to be staying and continuing to work with Action Express and Whelen Engineering for 2021,” Nasr said. “I love this team. The atmosphere is great. I have a good bond with everyone on the team. They’re passionate real racers. I have been with the team since 2018 when we won the championship. We were second last year and this year we are having a great fight. I am looking forward to next year to keep pushing forward with the team. We expect to win. A big thanks to Whelen Engineering and all of the folks there like Sonny and Christine Whelen.
“The competition will be tough again. But I am confident I am in the best position to fight for a championship again next year. Pipo is a great teammate. He is easy to work with and we like similar things in the set-up of the car. We welcome Mike [Conway] back for the endurance races. We will be tough to beat next year, starting with grabbing that win at Daytona in January!”
Derani is ready to continue winning races and championships with the team in 2021
“I am extremely proud to be back for another IMSA season with Action Express Racing and Whelen Engineering in 2021,” Derani said. “Since joining the team in 2019, we have achieved a great level of success together including an amazing win at the 12 Hours of Sebring and also securing the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Championship last year. I am still amazed with the level of professionalism that this group consistently operates at every race. It is a pleasure to commit to another season knowing that together we have a team and car to fight for more wins and championships.”
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship with travel to Sebring Florida this week for the final race of the 2020 Championships. The Whelen Engineering team is currently third in overall points and second in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup Championship. Gabby Chaves will join Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr as they fight to end 2020 with another overall race win and potentially first place in both Championships.
The team will closeout the IMSA WeatherTech Championship season with this weekend’s running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.
The 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will kick-off with the traditional Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway Jan. 29-31, 2021.
Source. Kyle Chura/Whelen Engineering/Photo. Brain Cleary