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Derani, Taylor React to Race-Deciding Lead Battle Clash

Derani, Taylor left disappointed after late-race clash that decided Petit Le Mans outcome…

Image: IMSA

Pipo Derani and Ricky Taylor were both left ruing a clash between their leading DPi cars that resulted in Wayne Taylor Racing taking victory in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans.

Race leader Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and his pursuer Taylor in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 came to blows in the closing stages of a pulsating ten-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship enduro.

Derani was defending hard from Taylor going into the last ten minutes, having already made a gutsy move for the lead down the inside at Turn 1 earlier in the final stint.

Despite losing first position, Taylor fought back in traffic to be right on Derani’s tail before launching an attack into the Turn 6 right-hander.

The pair then collided approaching the apex, with Derani going off into the gravel and striking the barriers and Taylor spinning at the edge of the track.

This drama enabled Renger van der Zande to inherit the lead and take the race win in the Wayne Taylor Cadillac after narrowly avoiding contact with Taylor’s rejoining Acura.

The incident made for a heated conclusion as a fired-up Derani, who ultimately finished fifth, told the NBC Sports broadcast after the race that he was disappointed in Taylor’s move which prevented Action Express from defending its 2019 Petit Le Mans win.

“I told him, I’ve always had a lot of respect for him, but I was in the lead and was in front, and he pushed me out,” said the Brazilian.

“There’s nothing much to say. Unfortunately, we lost the race. We did everything we could.

“We had ten laps to go, leading the race, and then he just pushes me out on a desperate move to try and get to the lead. I think it was a mistake on his side.

“I hope he sleeps on it and thinks a little bit because he thinks it’s my fault. But I don’t know what I could have done different. I was out in front.

“I’ve lost a bit of respect for him and his teammates for accusing me of trying to do something wrong. It is what it is. I’m not at the racetrack to make friends. I’m going to win the next one.”

Derani stressed the importance of him and his co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Filipe Albuquerque taking “positives” from the race despite victory slipping away at the end.

The No. 31 Cadillac was strong throughout and picked up vital points towards its Michelin Endurance Cup title goal by leading at two of the three scoring checkpoints.

“We will take the positives out of this race,” said Derani.

“We did a fantastic race but Acura was much quicker than us. I put two fantastic passes on him after losing the lead at the pit stop again, and I just want to take those feelings home, that we did everything we could.

“All the boys on the Whelen Engineering car did a fantastic job.”

Taylor said that he too was disappointed to see the lead battle end in the way that it did.

The 2017 IMSA prototype champion, who drove with Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi, recovered to finish second ahead of Team Penske’s other Acura that featured Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.

“I have to thank everyone at Acura and Team Penske for the speed they brought this weekend to Petit Le Mans,” said Taylor.

“We showed all weekend that we were going to be tough to beat and it played out that way in the race.

“I hate the way that it ended and in no way did I mean to take out the 31 car. It’s Petit Le Mans. Everyone wants to win this race and I saw an opportunity to do that for my team.

“To come home second is a solid points day but we were the car to beat at the end and I’m bummed that we didn’t end on top of the podium.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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