Driver Spotlight: Pipo Derani
Driver, No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda
Having completed the star drive of the race, did you imagine yourself being a Rolex 24 winner in your first attempt?
“It’s pretty surreal to come here for the first time, lead the Roar and then win the race. Who would imagine for a rookie to come here and win it in the first time?
“I have to thank my team because they all made it possible. Not only the drivers, the crew, the engineers… everyone at Tequila Patron ESM.
“I know were were going to have a tough race and I knew we had a good car since the Roar. But to think that we actually had a chance to win it was pretty tough.
“Looking back to see that we’ve done it… It was just a great team effort to be able to put this car in victory lane.”
What was the most challenging part of the race for you?
“I think learning the cold tires during the night was really tough. To come out of the pits on new tires and immediately have to deliver good times is really tough. In WEC, we have tire warmers.
“The tough part was also the last two-and-a-half hours with a lot of pressure from the Taylor brothers. They were pushing us really hard. It was all about not making mistakes but still driving fast enough to keep the gap.”
What does it mean to be part of the first 24-hour win for the Ligier JS P2?
“It means a lot to come here, especially in the last year before the new DPi rules come in. It was really important to prove that our car, even though with a little bit of restrictor on the engine, was a good chassis and a good choice.
“Mike Shank made the choice pretty quickly and came over to Onroak and have been running the car for the second year. But it was important for us to show that the car could win against the big heavy American muscles.
“It’s great. Next year, they’re all going to be P2/DPi regulations and to have Onroak and Ligier winning this very last [Rolex 24] before the new rules comes in is amazing.”
Are you looking forward to the season ahead in WEC and feel the chemistry already there to fight for the LMP2 World Championship?
“For sure. We’ve been building something really nice together. Since the beginning, the trust they’ve put in me was immense. That makes me have a lot less pressure to go deliver and do what I have to do.
“Trust is the best thing I have from them and I hope to keep pushing myself and being pushed to deliver, not only at Sebring but also in WEC as well.”
Your name is Luis Felipe but you’re known as “Pipo.” What’s the reason behind your nickname?
“My nickname comes from Felipe. It’s a common nickname for those who are called Felipe. My father started calling me like that and then it never stopped!”