Whelen Engineering drivers Pippa Derani (Brazil) and Tristan Nunez (Boynton Beach, FL) are vying for their first victory of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and, in the process, dethrone Acura as a four-time defensive winner of the Lexus race. Ohio May 13-15.
Over the past two years, the № 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-VR ranked second in the mid-Ohio sports car course with a total margin of less than one second – 0.975 seconds to be exact. In 2020, Cadillac at number 31 finished 0.607 seconds behind the Acura № 7, and in 2021 finished second after the Acura № 10 by only 0.368 seconds. Simply put, fans have seen epic fights between № 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and Acura over the past two years.
Derani and Nunez have enjoyed similar success in Mead Ohio since 2018. Both riders have two podiums and three finishes in the top five. In 2019, the Nunez prototype started from the pole position. It is clear that both drivers know how to quickly go around the middle of Ohio. So, could this year’s Cadillac № 31 come out on top? Derani and Nunez are hoping for that. They would like to use their last third place in Laguna Seka two weeks ago in their first race victory of the season in Mead Ohio.
“We’ve had some strong races over the last few years,” Derani said of the upcoming races. “But we couldn’t win. So hopefully this year we will be able to put ourselves in a position where we will finally be able to defeat the Acuras. I think we did very well [at Mid-Ohio] given that this is the track that best suits the Acuras. We were so close to winning, but in the end we lacked. This [Mid-Ohio] such a difficult place to pass. Last year and the previous year we failed to do so. We hunted for the Acuras, but didn’t quite find a place to overtake them. Hopefully we will be able to get ahead of them by the end of the race.
“Still, it’s nice to be back in Mead Ohio. It produces wonderful races. I think the fans love our races. They create a wonderful atmosphere. We want to put on a good show for them and bring Cadillac victory. ”
“I feel great when heading to Ohio Mead after we had an amazing result, we had Laguna Seca,” Nunez said. “It was a difficult track for us, but we used it to the maximum and got a really great result. I think we’re going to have the same mindset for Middle Ohio. This is a similar track with low traction. With traffic it will be difficult. I think it’s about getting the car typed, so it’s very good for the race. We will need to monitor tire degradation. I think maximizing traffic will be the point of the race. Where you catch movement, it’s luck. But you can make your own success. You just have to be a little aggressive at the right moments.
“In the past, I have had good results in Mead-Ohio. I want to make it even better this year. I really want to win this car with this team. I think we are close. I think it’s starting to work out. “
Derani and Nunez are fifth in the DPi Driver’s Points standings with 1249 points. They lag behind DPi leaders by 76 points.
Source. Kyle Chura Associates