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Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Tristan Nunez (Boynton Beach, Fla.) finished third in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship presented by Motul at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Nunez was behind the wheel of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V to start today’s two hour and 40-minute race, where he started from the third row. Early on, Nunez said he struggled to keep the rear tires underneath him. This kept him from advancing any positions during his stint.

On lap 26, under yellow, Nunez brought the car to pit lane for service, adjustments, and a driver change. Nunez entered pit lane fifth in class. However, thanks to the Action Express crew and their great pit stop, Derani picked up a position on pit lane, re-entering the track in fourth place.

“The start was definitely difficult,” Nunez said. “I just tried to keep the rears underneath me. We had a good pit stop and we made some adjustments.”

Now in fourth place, Derani had his sights set on the final podium. However, he was several seconds behind the third-place car. What he needed was another great pit stop at the end of his first stint and an excellent out lap to have a shot at undercutting the No. 5 car and picking up another spot.

So, the team had Derani make a green flag pit stop on lap 56 just before the No. 5 car made its pit stop. Derani pulled into the box. The team went to work, completed the service, and sent Derani on his way. He knew this was the team’s shot at third place if he could have a solid out lap. The strategy worked. On lap 60, Derani took over third place and never looked back.

“After we had the yellow flag, and I was stuck behind the No. 5, the team pulled me in early,” Derani said of the team’s strategy. “Then, I had a really good out lap. Eventually, that helped us get ahead, and from there, we could do our own race.” 

Today’s third place finish was the team’s fourth consecutive third place finish at Laguna Seca dating back to 2019. It is also the team’s second podium finish of the 2022 season. The team has never finished lower than fifth since the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship began racing at Laguna Seca in 2015.

“I’m really happy to come out of this race with the best Cadillac,” Derani said. “I think we did the best we could. We didn’t quite have it for the Acura’s. But, it’s a good points day for the team. We had to work hard on the Whelen Engineering car during the weekend. But come race day, it was very good. I’m really happy. To keep the No. 31 car on the podium here for the fourth year in a row is quite positive.”

“I don’t think we had the pace for the Acura’s,” Nunez said following the race. “But, we’ll take it [third place]. It feels like a win to us. We started in the back, and with a little bit of strategy and a major out lap by Pipo, we got into this position. To bring the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac to the podium is a good day.”

Derani and Nunez moved up a spot in the DPi Driver’s Points Standings to fifth place and have 1,249 points. The duo are 76 points behind the DPi leaders.

Next up, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Round Five and the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio May 13-15.

Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo. Brian Cleary


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