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DERANI: Silverstone Debrief

Pipo Derani files his first Sportscar365 column of season after win…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

I suppose there is some irony in the fact I had been so close to scoring an LMP2 win in the FIA World Endurance Championship for the last two seasons and then victory comes in my very first GTE-Pro race!

I won on Daytona and Sebring debuts and now I am a winner in my first GTE-Pro WEC event, it feels special, especially with such a mega operation like Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Silverstone last weekend was one of those very special and memorable events, one which I will remember for a very long time.

My first race for a factory team ended with pole position and the win, but it was far from straightforward, and for lots of reasons.

I arrived at Silverstone after just a couple of days testing the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT in Spain. Believe me when I tell you that this car is awesome, but coming from LMP racing it also takes some time to get used to.

Luckily I have a fantastic team and teammates and I managed to get used to my new environment very quickly and absorb all the information I was given.

Still, it was always going to be a tricky weekend for me personally at Silverstone with so little running beforehand. There was so much more to take in, but as I said Harry (Tincknell) and Andy (Priaulx) were the best teammates you could wish for in this scenario.

As Harry said after the race, he knows exactly what I am experiencing because he was in exactly the same position this time last year coming from LMP to GTE-Pro.

I knew that I had to concentrate for every second of every session last weekend.

Although I rarely make any mistakes, I could not afford any slip-ups at all at Silverstone. But I thrive on pressure, both the internal from myself and external too, so this mission was accomplished and together we managed to do it.

Harry and Andy did a superb job in qualifying with Andy’s time by far and away the quickest.

It was really impressive to see them put these laps together, but we knew we had a good car both on outright pace but also for the longer runs in the race. It was the result of a lot of hard work by the team over the winter on this incredible car.

The race itself initially saw everything going to plan, but then we got an issue with the door opening. This meant we got out of synch and at that stage it looked like even a podium was out of the question.

You never give up in endurance racing though because there are so many variables that can happen and come back in our favor. The Safety Car was one of these and we grasped the chance.

My stints were not easy because of the slippery track conditions, but as I said I maintained a consistent pace and didn’t make any mistakes. This allowed Harry to attack in the final 2.5 hours and he did a fantastic job to hunt down the leaders and then pull a gap.

To win the race at Silverstone close to the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team base was tremendous.

We had suppliers, friends and family from Ford, Multimatic and many other partners all weekend and I could really feel the support and warmth.

To get the reward of a race win at this event is a day I will remember forever.

Now we want to repeat that at Spa but it won’t be easy. The competition was tough last weekend and on occasions we saw how close it was in reality with some of our direct opponents.

At Silverstone we were flat out in all sessions but Porsche especially seemed to come alive in the race.

I am concentrating on doing my best for Ford and to help them as much as I can to mount a championship challenge this season in the No. 67 car.

Le Mans is a vital race and they want to defend their title there, but the WEC is also a very special prize too. I really aim to continue giving a positive contribution towards this goal for the next two races and I will really enjoy it.

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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