Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Tristan Nunez (Boynton Beach, Fla.) are set to tackle the famous Corkscrew in Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship presented by Motul at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca April 29 – May 1.
Laguna Seca has been very kind to the Whelen Engineering/Action Express Racing crew over the years. Since 2015, the team has never finished lower than fifth. In fact, they have five podium finishes in those seven years, including three consecutive third place finishes (2019, 2020, and 2021).
Derani won this race in 2018. However, the team is still looking for its first win at the famed Monterey track. Could this weekend’s race produce the team’s first win at Laguna Seca? Maybe. And, if the team does win, it will also be their first win of the 2022 season.
“We’re looking forward to going back to Laguna Seca,” Derani said. “It’s a fantastic track. It would be great if I could repeat my 2018 win.”
“Laguna has always been a special track for me,” Nunez said. “I got my first Skip Barber win [there] when I started racing cars. I got my first-ever Prototype pole there. So, I’ve had some success at Laguna Seca. In terms of the team’s success there, Action Express has always been very consistent. I’m really looking forward to our chances there. We approach every race expecting to win. So that’s exactly what we expect going into this round.
“It’s good to get the first few races under my belt. Every lap I turn in the Whelen Engineering Cadillac, I feel more confident and comfortable behind the wheel. We’re coming up to the halfway point in the season and I feel like I’m in a really good place personally. The team has been extremely helpful in making the transition seamless. They’ve helped me learn the approach of the Cadillac each race.”
The 2.238-mile, 11-turn track at Laguna Seca is known for its elevation change and the famous Corkscrew, also known as Turns 8 and 8a where it drops nearly 60 feet in just 450 feet of track length. By the time drivers hit Turn 9, the elevation has dropped a little more than 10 stories. This, coupled with the changing track conditions due to the sand, makes Laguna Seca one of the trickier tracks to drive on.
“I think the track is different in the sense that the conditions always change a lot due to the sand that we have on the outside of the track,” Derani said. “For sure, this is a completely different track than we’ve had this year (Daytona – roval, Sebring – airport course with multiple surfaces, and Long Beach – downtown street course) and one I’m very much looking forward to. Hopefully, we can bring the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac to the podium again.”
“It’s a very tricky track,” Nunez said. “The grip just changes so quickly throughout the race. I’ve been there sometimes where you gain grip throughout the race and other times you go there, and you lose grip. It is very hard to predict what the surface is going to be like. It just makes for an even playing field for all of the competitors. You never really know what you are going to get. I’m looking forward to going back to Monterey and ripping it down the Corkscrew.”
Currently, Derani and Nunez are sixth in the DPi Driver’s Points Standings with 924 points. They are 81 points behind the DPi leaders.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates