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DERANI: Spa Debrief

Pipo Derani files his latest Sportscar365 column after Spa…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Last weekend at Spa saw one of the best ever LMP2 races. It was fantastic being in the middle of the fight at the end.

Obviously it would have been great to win the race but looking at it honestly we came away from it knowing we did the maximum result for what we had at our disposal last weekend.

Qualifying was really difficult and we ended up starting 8th in LMP2. It was clear that our opposition had several advantages on this configuration of track. Despite this we knew that through our work with the Dunlop tires and strategy operations of the No.31 Tequila Patrón team, we would have a much better race.

Yet, it didn’t start too well! I met Mr Panciatici at Les Combes in the opening laps. He was on the outside and he came across leaving me with completely nowhere to go and no room at all.

I had to throw the car all the way up the curb on the inside to try and avoid an accident but it still happened. He really just turned in like I wasn’t there, and the fact he got a penalty said it all really.

Despite the spin I managed to recover well and it was a good triple stint. We had nice Dunlop tire management and I was able to go from ninth place to fourth, before I handed over to Chris (Cumming).

I got back in the car for the final two stints. The Safety Car came out for the Muecke shunt which looked really bad and I was relieved to find out that Stefan was ok after that big hit at Raidillion.

When we went green again I saw in my mirrors that (Roberto) Merhi in the Manor car was very fast and coming quicker and quicker. The team told me not to fight him as he had a penalty and he pitted shortly after.

We knew Lapierre was fast but had to make a splash and dash stop. It was a bit of a surprise when I saw him come up behind me after his stop, but he obviously had a quick car and there was not much I could do to keep him back, although I tried my best in the final laps.

With just a few laps remaining I came up to Franchitti in the Ford at Pouhon. Let’s just say I couldn’t see why he didn’t let us go.

He got in the way and allowed Lapierre to pull off a great move. I have to say that he (Lapierre) is a gentleman and a great racer. I respect him as a competitor a great deal and enjoy racing him.

The internal battle between the Ligiers is good and we must take as a positive that we were able to finish ahead of the RGR Sport by Morand car. Felipe (Albuquerque) had two new tires and was quick at the end but had an incident with the Audi at La Source which cost him a bit in the end.

Overall, we came away satisfied that we got a second runners-up position and we really did maximize what we could do at Spa.

At one stage I thought the race had come to us and the win was possible but it was such an exciting battle, with so many great fights that it was all very good for people to see the level in LMP2 this season.

It is phenomenally high and I am pleased I am performing against good and more experienced drivers like Filipe, Nicolas and Rene (Rast).

Now, we go to Le Mans for the test day, where there will be a lot of work to get through. We will be as prepared and ready as we can be.

What I can say for certain is that for the fans there is going to be one hell of a battle there next month. Whatever happens, I will be back here at Sportscar365 the week after it all giving you the lowdown.

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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