Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) are set to do battle on the streets of Long Beach this weekend in the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Derani and Nasr are coming off a third-place finish at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago and three podium finishes in the last three races, including a pair of wins. The Brazilian duo are very much in the Championship hunt with just two races remaining. However, they will need a solid qualifying effort and a strong finish this weekend to have a realistic shot at competing for Driver’s Championship heading into the final round at Petit Le Mans in November. But first, Derani and Nasr must tame the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course in downtown Long Beach.
“Long Beach is a great track to drive. It’s very iconic,” Derani said. “It’s also a track that is very good for our Cadillac. Last race, we finished third after having two wins. But, we lost a little bit of ground to the Championship leaders. So, we are going all in this weekend. I think we’ve got a great chance of winning and staying in the Championship fight, which is very important. Felipe and I had a very strong race in Long Beach the last time we were there in 2019. Unfortunately, we lost a wheel and had to stop to fix it, after being in the lead nearly the entire race. So, we’re going to go for it. Hopefully, we can get the third win of the season and stay in the Championship all the way to Petit Le Mans. Long Beach is a great track and I think we’re going to have a great car.”
“I’m very much looking forward to being back at Long Beach after missing out last year,” Nasr said. “We’re finally back at one of my favorite street courses. Although it’s a short lap, it’s pretty intense, very technical and I love every aspect of it. It’s a track I really enjoy driving our No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac on. We’ve always had pretty good pace there every time we went there. We’ve just been unlucky to get a win there. We’ve come close a couple of times. For sure, it’s one place I’d like to see our car win.
“We’ve got two races to go, and we definitely want to make the most of it, this means trying to get the pole position and winning the race. That way, we can carry the [Championship] fight over to the final race. I don’t see why we couldn’t do that considering the track [Long Beach] plays into our hands. The Cadillac has pretty good balance there and we’ve also had a fast car there in the past. It’s a super fun place. I love racing there.”
This season, Whelen Engineering/Action Express has two wins, five podiums and three poles. Derani and Nasr are second in the DPi Driver Point Championship standings with 2,667 points, just 98 points behind the DPi leaders. The team is also second in the Team Point Championship.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo. Brian Cleary