Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Tristan Nunez (Boynton Beach, Fla.) look to get their first win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and, in the process, dethrone Acura as the four-time defending race winner of the Lexus Grand Prix At Mid-Ohio May 13-15.
In the past two years, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R has back-to-back second place finishes at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by a combined margin of less than one second – 0.975-seconds to be exact. In 2020, the No. 31 Cadillac finished 0.607-seconds behind the No. 7 Acura and, in 2021, it finished second to the No. 10 Acura by only 0.368-seconds. Simply put, fans have seen epic battles between the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and an Acura the past two years.
Derani and Nunez have enjoyed similar success at Mid-Ohio dating back to 2018. Both drivers have two podiums and three top-five finishes. In 2019, Nunez’s prototype started from the pole position. It’s clear that both drivers know how to get around Mid-Ohio quickly. So, could this be the year that the No. 31 Cadillac comes out on top? Derani and Nunez hope so. They would like to parlay their most recent third place finish at Laguna Seca two weeks ago into their first race win of the season at Mid-Ohio.
“We had some strong races there over the past few years,” Derani said regarding the close races. “But, we weren’t quite able to win. So hopefully, this year, we can put ourselves in a position where we can finally beat the Acuras. I think we’ve done extremely well [at Mid-Ohio] considering that it’s a track that better suits the Acuras. We were so close to winning, but we came up short at the end. It’s [Mid-Ohio] such a difficult place to pass. We weren’t quite able to do that last year and the year before. We were hunting down the Acuras, but we didn’t quite find the place to overtake them. Hopefully, we can be ahead of them before the end of the race.
“Nevertheless, it’s great to be coming back to Mid-Ohio. It produces great racing. I think the fans out there love our racing. They make for a great atmosphere. We want to put on a good show for them and bring Cadillac a win.”
“I’m feeling great about heading into Mid-Ohio following the amazing result we had a Laguna Seca,” Nunez said. “It was a tricky track for us, but we made the most of it and we came out with a really great result. I think we’ll have the same mindset for Mid-Ohio. It’s a similar track with low grip. It’s going to be difficult with traffic. I think it’s about getting the car dialed in, so it feels really good for the race. We’ll need to watch the tire degradation. I think that maximizing on traffic will be the make it or break it point in the race. Where you catch traffic, that’s luck. But, you can kind of make your own luck. You’ve just got to be a little aggressive at the right points.
“I’ve had some good results at Mid-Ohio in the past. I’m looking to make that even better this year. I’m really itching to get a win in this car, with this team. I think we’re close. I think everything is starting to come together.”
Derani and Nunez are fifth in the DPi Driver’s Points Standings with 1,249 points. They are 76 points behind the DPi leaders.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates