Whelen Engineering drivers Pipo Derani (Brazil), Felipe Nasr (Brazil) and Mike Conway (Great Britain) are ready for the third endurance race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar. This weekend, Conway joins full-season drivers Derani and Nasr in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
The Whelen Engineering/Action Express crew is coming off back-to-back second place finishes (Mid-Ohio and Detroit, respectively). In fact, both second place finishes were by less than a one second margin of victory for the winning car. This season, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R has shown speed and consistency, and the team is confident it has the package to compete for the win at Watkins Glen.
Last year, the Watkins Glen race was scratched from the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule due to Covid. This year, Derani and Nasr can’t wait to get back to racing on the historic upstate New York track.
“I’m looking forward to going back to The Glen,” Derani said. “It’s such an important and classic race on our calendar. Last year, we didn’t have the Six Hours of The Glen. So, to be coming back and enjoying this traditional race with fans, it will be fantastic. The team and I know the track well. I was on the pole in 2017 and the team has had great success there in the past. We’re looking for another crack at the podium. Hopefully we’ll get the win this time around.
“It’s not an easy track. I think our competitors have been testing there in the past couple of weeks. But it’s an endurance race. It’s a different mindset than we’ve had the past two races where it was a sprint. Anything can happen in six hours. I think we have a good package. But, it’s not going to be easy. I’m looking forward to hitting the track. It’s a superfast and challenging racetrack for the driver, and it’s amazing to drive. We’re only going to have two hours to practice. We’re going to have a second car [Ally Racing] with the team as well. So, we are looking forward to a 1-2 finish. Hopefully this will be the first win for the Whelen Engineering No. 31 Cadillac, and we can bring all of our sponsors to the top step of the podium for the first time this year.”
“I’m excited to be going back to Watkins Glen after missing out on last year’s race due to Covid,” Nasr said. “We didn’t have it on the calendar. So, I’m super glad we’re going back there this year. Whenever I hear the name Watkins Glen, it reminds me of an old school track – a classic in sports car racing. It’s a very unique track, with a number of fast corners and a combination of chicanes. It’s pretty fun to drive. It’s super intense and it demands a lot of commitment from the driver on those high-speed corners.
“We’ve been knocking on the door a couple of times this year with two second place finishes at Mid-Ohio and Detroit. I’m pretty sure that [first] win is going to come in no time. Whether it’s going to be this weekend or the next, I don’t know. All I know is whenever we go into race mode and any time I step into a car, I expect to win. I go there with that mentality. Carrying on that vibe that we had at Detroit and Mid-Ohio, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac has been pretty fast and consistent. We have all the ingredients to fight for a victory this weekend.”
Action Express Racing has had some success at Watkins Glen. In 2016, the team finished 1-2 with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi winning in the No. 5 Corvette DP. Action Express won again in 2017 with Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Felipe Albuquerque in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi. Derani started from the pole position in the 2017 race.
Derani and Nasr are currently third in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi drivers’ point standings with 1,270 points. Cadillac leads in the DPi manufacturers’ championship with 1,475 points.
Source. Kyle Chura/Photo. Brian Cleary