Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) finished third in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Derani was behind the wheel of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R to start today’s race. Saturday, he qualified fifth with a time of 1:15.384. However, following post-qualifying tech inspection, the fourth-place qualifying No. 55 Mazda was moved to the back of the DPi grid for a rule’s infraction. This allowed Derani to move up from the fifth-starting position to fourth.
Derani drove a double stint, and had the No. 31 Cadillac as high as second, before handing it over to Nasr on lap 47. From there, Nasr ran consistently in the top three during his double stint. In fact, Nasr was in third with nine minutes remaining in the race. That’s when he chased down and passed the No. 60 Acura in Turn One for second. Unfortunately, Nasr had the No. 01 Cadillac right behind chasing him.
With two minutes remaining, Nasr and the No. 01 made side-to-side contact coming out of Turn Three and into Turn Four. That’s when the No. 01 passed Nasr for position. This dropped Nasr to third, which is where he finished.
“I had a good double stint,” Derani said. “Throughout those stints, we managed to jump a couple of cars and we went to P2 and P3 in the race – depending on the No. 60 car. I think we did the best we could. Of course, we were really close to finishing second. But, just at the very end, we lost the position to the No. 01 car. In general, it was a positive day for Whelen Engineering. We got lots of points for the Championship. We’ve got to win the next two [races] and we’re going to try our best to achieve that.”
“It was a difficult race for us in terms of sheer pace,” Nasr said. “We were struggling for rear grip. We were trying to minimize the points loss to the No. 10 car when we realized we couldn’t win. We made some good strategy moves and got up to second [place]. Everything was looking good to hold on for second until we got taken out by the No. 01 car.”
Derani and Nasr are second in the DPi Driver Point Championship with 2,315 points, 170 points behind the DPi leaders. The team is also second in the Team Point Championship. This season, Whelen Engineering/Action Express has two wins, five podiums and three poles.
Today’s third-place finish is the third consecutive third-place finish for the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The team has now finished on the podium in five out of the last six years dating back to 2016.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series will return to California to do battle on the streets of Long Beach Sept. 24-25 for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo. Brian Cleary