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DERANI: Mexico City Debrief

Pipo Derani files his latest Sportscar365 column after podium in Mexico City…

Photo: Drew Gibson/ESM

Photo: Drew Gibson/ESM

Well, what a weekend in Mexico. The first time that the FIA WEC has gone to this incredible country and I have to say it was an honor to be there, take part and share an unforgettable podium.

I think that my friend and former teammate Ricardo Gonzalez and his team did a fantastic job and even though RGR Sport beat us, I was very happy to see them on the podium. They deserved their win and fair play to them for a great performance.

For Tequila Patrón ESM, this was also an important weekend as we had hundreds of guests from the nearby Patrón headquarters in Judice. It was a pleasure to see the guests and to show them around our pit and give them an idea of the WEC and what everyone works so hard to achieve.

The circuit was interesting. From the time I walked the track on Wednesday to the final few minutes of the race it was constantly evolving. There was so much that was new for everyone but also for us there was the added unknown of the Michelin tires as this was only our second race with them.

We arrived knowing we would run the soft and medium tires in Mexico as opposed to the mediums and hard rubber in Germany. This meant we were still discovering a variety of aspects but ultimately it brought us closer to the ultimate pace when conditions allowed.

The weekend started well considering all the new elements of the track. But as the weekend went on and the track ‘rubbered-up’ I think we lost a bit to the other top runners.

Qualifying was actually tough for us as we had an issue with the tyre pressures so we had a really difficult car in that session for me to drive and I ended up making a small mistake at the end of the lap.

We wanted to start nearer the front but that wasn’t meant to be, although we were still confident that with the guaranteed wet weather running on Saturday we could still get a result, and so it proved.

The race was full of action from the start. I had a big battle with Nelson Panciatici and also the Manor car of Richard Bradley. I must say that with Bradley it was an interesting battle in the sense that from my point of view it wasn’t so fair. I put a move on him at T13 and then on the next right he completely ran me off the road which wasn’t so nice. This also lost me a position to Panciatici but I got him back at turn one.

After that I managed to come up to fifth position, which from 10th on the grid gave us a good foundation for the race. When Chris (Cumming) got in the car he started well but with the track being so narrow he was involved in a couple of incidents which were completely not his fault.

This cost us time again but Ryan (Dalziel) did his usual good job to stabilize our progress in some really tough conditions.

I got back in the car for the final two hours and I knew I had to push. The track was drying out but still some showers came so it was really challenging but conditions that I really like to attack in.

There were some moments when we had wet Michelin tires and the rest were on intermediates (Michelin don’t supply inters) and we lost some more time while we weren’t comfortable to go on to the slicks.

After the G-Drive guys had their brake problem we found ourselves in third position but I don’t know how, it was a pleasant surprise!

As a team again we performed to the maximum. We have to be patient with the Michelin tires because when you swap mid-season there is so much that has to change and that you race to study and learn from.

As I said at the start the podium was excellent, a real lively atmosphere and a nice way to end the first WEC weekend in Mexico City.

Now I head to Paris for another special date – my wedding! Then it is off to COTA where last year I was on the podium. We will be pushing to get at least the same again in 2016.

Pipo Derani (@PipoDerani) is the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona winner and three-time Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner, driving for Whelen Engineering Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


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