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DERANI: Spa Debrief

Pipo Derani files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

We didn’t get the result we wanted last weekend at Spa but from a performance aspect it was again a satisfying event.

That is the overall summary of my second race weekend with the Ford Chip Ganassi Ford Racing team, driving the No. 67 car.

I have to say, the Ford GT is quickly becoming my most favorite ever race cars. The more you drive it the more it gives back. It is one very special race car.

We had to deal with the big frustration of losing almost a minute with a fuel pressure problem after the first pit stop. But, these things happen occasionally and what was impressive was how we all fought back from it as a team.

We got back on the lead lap and eventually finished fourth behind the sister No. 66 Ford GT.

We took the momentum from Silverstone, applied it to last weekend at Spa, and it really looked good throughout most of the weekend. Ferrari was in fightback mode though, they found some speed and were clearly the quickest out there, but we were right in the hunt in the early stages.

Early in the race the No. 67 Ford GT was battling for second place with the sister car and the No. 51 Ferrari and it was action all the way.

It was really tough to see Harry (Tincknell) stopped at Eau Rouge for what seemed like an eternity. But the communication from the team to the cockpit was excellent and we were able to re-join the race after some setting changes.

I got in after Harry and completed my stints to help get the car back in to contention. It was fun.

I managed to track down and pass Michael Christensen in the Porsche but then lost out in the Full Course Yellow so has to do it all over again!

I handed over to Andy (Priaulx) with the car in the mix for fourth place and then Andy drove his usual fantastic stints to seal fourth and ensure we stayed in the lead of the GT World Championship standings.

From my own point of view I felt much more comfortable in the car at Spa.

There is no big secret to tell really. It is just a case of more seat time and getting to know the team more after the first race at Silverstone last month. After all there is no better bonding tool than taking a victory!

May is seriously busy with some major testing going on before the big one next month – the 24 hours of Le Mans.

In fact, before we know it we will be there for the test day and to see where everyone is on the timing screens. It will be fascinating to see if Porsche and Aston Martin find some more pace as we push on to Le Mans.

The whole Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team revels in competition and the more we are challenged the more that is learnt and understood to make us better for the future. In this sense it was easy to fit in to the Ford team because we completely share these same values.

Le Mans is scheduled to be my final race for Ford as the deal was only ever for Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans.

I will be sad not to drive the car again this season but I am so grateful for the opportunity to race with such a great team as Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

It has taught me so much already and made me a better driver so when the next factory program opportunity comes along I know I will be 100 percent ready.

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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