Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani has described the outcome of the decision that likely cost he and his co-drivers overall victory in last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans as “brutal.”
The Brazilian was leading the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale in the closing stages when he suffered contact with the No. 67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe.
A drive-through penalty for avoidable contact dropped the No. 22 Nissan DPi of Derani, Johannes van Overbeek and Bruno Senna to fourth in the results, and handing the win to the team’s sister No. 2 entry.
“The final laps of Petit was the most brutal and disappointing moment in my entire career,” Derani told Sportscar365.
“I’m not wanting to point the finger to the race director or anything like that. I respect the decision taken even if I don’t feel like I did anything overtly wrong.
“If you look at the replay, I had more then half a car in front when [Briscoe] turned and hit my door.
“Its hard to take decisions in those final moments of such a difficult race. I had a 15-second gap that was abruptly ended with a full course yellow and all of a sudden I saw myself having to restart with 20-plus GTs in front with 20 minutes left in the race. It was attack mode like I’ve always been.”
While Derani, as well as the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Filipe Albuquerque were handed penalties that stemmed from the late-race restart, no further action was given to Juan Pablo Montoya, who made contact with a Lexus RC F GT3 with just over one hour remaining, enough to result in a left-rear puncture to the No. 6 Team Penske Oreca 07 Gibson.
Montoya went on to finish third in the race, in Penske’s return to sports car racing.
Derani, meanwhile, has sought solace in his team and their attitude to last weekend’s race and believes a title attack next season will be the key focus.
“At this moment the only thing that comforts me is to think that I have a great team behind me, a team that immediately after crossing finish line said over the radio, ‘we win together and we lose together.’
“That kind of gesture really has no price.”