Pipo Derani says he and co-driver Felipe Nasr are going “all in” on the title fight this weekend at Long Beach, with only two rounds remaining to crown the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class champions.
The Brazilian duo lost ground on Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who won last time out at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and extended their championship lead to 98 points — the equivalent of nearly 10 points under IMSA’s previous points structure — over the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
With Cadillac having been unbeaten at Long Beach in the DPi era, and AXR having won the last two last races held on the famed Southern California street circuit, Derani is upbeat on their chances this weekend.
“Long Beach is a great track to drive. It’s very iconic,” he said. “It’s also a track that is very good for our Cadillac.
“Last race, we finished third after having two wins. But, we lost a little bit of ground to the championship leaders. So, we are going all in this weekend.
“I think we’ve got a great chance of winning and staying in the championship fight, which is very important.
“Felipe and I had a very strong race in Long Beach the last time we were there in 2019. Unfortunately, we lost a wheel and had to stop to fix it, after being in the lead nearly the entire race.
“So, we’re going to go for it.
“Hopefully, we can get the third win of the season and stay in the championship all the way to Petit Le Mans.”
Nasr added: “We’ve got two races to go, and we definitely want to make the most of it, this means trying to get the pole position and winning the race.
“That way, we can carry the fight over to the final race.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t do that considering the track plays into our hands.
“The Cadillac has pretty good balance there and we’ve also had a fast car there in the past. It’s a super fun place. I love racing there.”
Despite not having won there before, Nasr said that Long Beach serves as one of his favorite street circuits.
“Although it’s a short lap, it’s pretty intense, very technical and I love every aspect of it,” he said. “It’s a track I really enjoy driving our No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac on.
“We’ve always had pretty good pace there every time we went there. We’ve just been unlucky to get a win there.
“We’ve come close a couple of times. For sure, it’s one place I’d like to see our car win.”
Taylor: Long Beach Win Has “Alluded” Acura
Ricky Taylor, who has three previous wins at Long Beach all driving for WTR, feels the race has “alluded” Acura in the manufacturer’s two previous attempts in 2018 and 2019 with Team Penske.
“The circuit has been dominated by Cadillac,” Taylor said.
“With only two races remaining in our season, a win would not only be sweet for victory on Acura’s home soil but also take the pressure off us going into the Petit Le Mans endurance race in November.
“We finally flipped the momentum mid-season and are back to winning.
“It feels good to be back on the right side of it, but we need to keep our heads down because we still have a big target on our backs.”
Co-driver Albuquerque, who has a 100 percent win record at the track from 2018-19, added: “The momentum coming from a win at Laguna Seca helps our whole team.
“We need to continue the good work; the job is not done yet and we still have two races to go.
“Long Beach is the home of Acura, so we all want to do well. We are going to give our best.
“The pressure is more on the other side than our side. We had the pressure that we needed to win at Laguna and now they have the pressure to win in Long Beach.”