Pipo Derani has credited his Action Express Racing team for putting him “back in the game” after nearly ending his race in the tire barriers.
The Brazilian took his Whelen-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R to a third place finish in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Road America in near-monsoon conditions that initially caught him out in the final hour.
Derani made contact with the Turn 3 barriers as the rain arrived, causing damage to the nose of the Cadillac DPi but miraculously remained on the lead lap.
While benefiting from a 21-minute red flag period and quick pit work by the Gary Nelson-led crew to change the nose while under caution, Derani charged from sixth to third by the checkered flag.
“We had a tough day and the rain did not make our lives easier” Derani said.
“Unfortunately for me, when I got in the car, I was really close to car 10. We were trying to undercut them in the pit. So, I pitted one lap before him. I was really pushing a lot.
“At that point, the rain came, and I lost my braking and hit the wall. Of course, that changed the whole situation.
“But having said that, with the red flag, we had the chance to put a new nose on the car and be back in the game – even if we lost a few positions.
“We were able to restart the race with a new nose and try [to win] from there. At that point, my mindset was to try to get the best possible result for the team.
“I have to say I’m really glad we managed to be on the podium. I wish we could have finished a little further ahead.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take a good result like this considering how tough the weekend was for us and move on. We scored some good points for the championship. The team did a fantastic job, especially for putting us back in contention on the last restart.”
Van der Zande’s Rain Dance Nearly Pays Off
While missing out on the win to Acura Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, Renger van der Zande said he’s “very happy” to have walked away with a second place result after struggling against the Acura ARX-05 and Mazda RT24-Ps in the dry.
The Dutchman made the call to switch to wet weather Michelin tires as the rain began to fall in the closing hour, a decision that ultimately put the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi in the lead on the final restart until getting passed by Castroneves with five minutes to go.
“Compared to the Mazdas and Acuras we were not competitive this weekend in the dry conditions, so we needed rain to do better than a fifth-place finish,” said van der Zande.
“It was super tricky out there. The car became a boat a few times and I had some big moments. This team has done a fantastic job.
“We were doing well and were staying in front of the other Cadillac cars, but then I saw some rain drops on the windscreen and I told the team.
They made the call to put rain tires on the car even though the track was completely dry.
“Sometimes you dream about these strategy calls where you put rain tires on the car and then it becomes wet, but today it happened, and we were suddenly leading after the red flag.
“We can be very happy with leading the championship and coming out with a second-place finish.”
Van der Zande and co-driver Ryan Briscoe now hold a six-point lead in the DPi championship heading into the next scheduled round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in September.