Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Olivier Pla (France) return to Road America for what the team hopes will be a repeat winning performance in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Fastlane SportCar Weekend Aug. 4-7. The team won this race last year from the pole position.
Derani is no stranger to winning at Road America. In fact, he has two-career wins at the 4.08-mile, 14-turn road course. He won in 2017 in a Nissan, and he won this race last year with former co-driver Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. This year, he and the team are still looking for their first win of the season and Road America could be the track to deliver that win.
“Road America is a fantastic racetrack,” Derani said. “Most likely, it’s one of my favorites where I’ve been lucky enough to have won twice. Last year, it was a fantastic win for us starting from the pole after a wet qualifying. It was a race that we had pressure from the beginning to the end. I’m looking forward to going back.
This weekend will be the fourth time Pla has competed at Road America. In 2014, he drove a Nissan and, in 2017, he was in a Ligier LMP2. His best finish at the famed Wisconsin track came last year when he finished fifth in an Acura.
“I know Road America,” Pla said. “Once again, it’s another special track like Watkins Glen or Sebring. It is a high commitment track, but at the same time, it’s very technical. It is a little bit bumpy and has some fast corners, which makes for a good show on TV and for the fans. During the racing, there will be a lot of overtaking and traffic management will be key. Two of my favorite corners are the Carousel, which is a long right hander that’s very fast and very long, and the famous Kink, which is flat and you need to have a perfect line. I’m looking forward to this event. Last year, Action Express won the race. So, we have one target this time also.”
The race weekend begins with Practice #1 at 11:05 a.m. (CT), followed by Practice #2 at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5. DPi qualifying gets underway at 11:50 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5. Round Nine of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will start at 10:40 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates/Photo Brian Cleary