Pipo Derani says it is a “big honor” to replace Ed Brown at Tequila Patron ESM for the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The Brazilian driver was originally only competing with the team in the four-round Tequila Patron Endurance Cup portion of the season but has since been drafted into the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi alongside Johannes van Overbeek, following Brown’s retirement from prototype racing.
“It’s a championship I’ve always wanted to be involved with full-time, and being called to finish the season in Ed’s place is a big honor,” Derani told Sportscar365.
“Obviously it’s not ideal and how I wanted to come into IMSA and be here full-time, but it’s not like he was involved in any accident or anything, he just decided to retire.
“I’m really happy that they chose me to continue to drive for the team. It’s going to be different races which aren’t as long as I’m used to in WEC, starting in Canada next week.
“It’s going to be a very nice experience and I can’t wait to get to work again with Johannes. We raced together last year and we had great success together in the same car, and we’ll start driving together again next week.”
Derani is no stranger to the Florida-based team, having helped lead ESM to overall victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring last year, in what proved to be breakout performances for the 23-year-old Brazilian, who went on to drive for them in the full-season campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“I know everyone from the team, I know how the team likes to operate and how they work,” Derani said. “It makes the transition easier now and [I only have] to learn a few extra tracks, but that’s no big deal to be honest.
“It’s a big family and I love being part of Tequila Patron ESM. As a team, we’ve achieved a lot together, so we understand each other quite well.”
In addition to his program in the U.S., a return to WEC is also in store for Derani, joining Filipe Albuquerque as substitutes for Nelson Piquet and Nicolas Prost at Rebellion Racing in the Six Hours of Nürburgring in two weeks’ time.
This comes after he served as Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s third driver alongside Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx for the opening three rounds in the GTE-Pro ranks.
“I love being part of WEC and it’s a championship I have been involved with for the past two-and-a-half seasons now,” he said.
“This season I had the opportunity to drive with Ford until Le Mans and this was something I couldn’t refuse even though I had options to do the full season with other LMP2 teams.
“I’ve always said that my objective and goal was to become a factory driver and that happened this year with Ford.
“Considering I had to take that decision and drive for only three races, I’m really happy to be back now with Rebellion. It’s great to be part of WEC and it’s nice to continue to race on those great tracks as well.”
While Derani’s new program officially gets underway next weekend at the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, he races the sister car in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen this weekend.
Sharing the No. 2 car with Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel, Derani feels confident for the team’s chances.
“The target has to be the win,” he said. “It has been far too long now for us not to at least fight for it. It hasn’t been an easy year because we had a lot of ups and downs and the program starting so late makes it even harder.
“I believe that we have a chance to fight for it, and the car should be very good in the fast corners [here]. We know that the Cadillac is very strong in every sort of circuit.
“We need to focus but I really think we have a chance to fight with them this weekend.”