Whelen Engineering Cadillac drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) are on a winning streak and look to make it three in a row at this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at Laguna Seca.
The Whelen Engineering/Action Express crew is riding a wave of momentum heading into this weekend’s race having won the last two races (Watkins Glen and Road America), including a pole-winning effort at Road America. The timing of the momentum could not be any better for the North Carolina-based team. Right now, the team and its drivers are very much in the Championship hunt with three races remaining, just 41 points out of the Championship lead.
This weekend, the team heads to a track where it has had quite a bit of success in recent years. Since the 2016 season, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering car has finished on the podium in four out of the last five years, including back-to-back third place finishes in 2019 and 2020.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Laguna Seca,” Derani said. “It is a fantastic place to race. I won this race in 2018 and, together with Whelen Engineering, finished third in 2019 and 2020. We hope that we can improve on our third-place finishes and hopefully I can be back in victory lane in what would be our third win of the season.
“Strategy will play a big role in this race, and it will be crucial to be on top of our game to bring this third victory home. We expect to win.”
“I’m excited to be returning to Laguna Seca,” Nasr said. “It’s an iconic track on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule. It’s a very technical one [track]. We’re coming off two wins in a row. We certainly want to add a third straight win. I feel like the team has done a great job over the past few events. We’re building up the momentum and getting the most out of our No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac. The whole package has been working pretty well.
“We’ll take each day as it comes at Laguna. That place is very technical and quite tricky to set up the car for one lap, with regards to qualifying pace. The race will dictate a lot. But, track position is important. So, qualifying will be crucial. Again, we’ll do what it takes to keep the fight alive all the way until the end. Laguna Seca has been good to us in the past in terms of consistency. We were on the podium there the last two years. We definitely want to be two steps higher [on the podium] if we can. It would be great to grab a win at Laguna. I haven’t ticked that box yet, so it would be awesome to get a win in California.”
This season, Whelen Engineering/Action Express has two wins, four podiums and three poles. Derani and Nasr are second in the DPi Driver Point Championship standings with 2,339 points, just 41 points behind the DPi leaders. The team is also second in the Team Point Championship.
This weekend’s schedule gets underway with Practice #1 at 4:30 p.m. (PT) Friday, Sept. 10 (all classes). Practice #2 for DPi/GTLM begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, followed by a 15-minute DPi/LMP2 qualifying session at 1:55 p.m. The Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship race starts at 1:10 p.m.
Source. Whelen Engineering Company/Photo. Brian Cleary