BRASELTON, GA (12 October 2019) – Whelen Engineering Racing went out a big winner in the final race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, scoring a dramatic victory in the Motul Petit Le Mans while giving Action Express Racing its sixth consecutive victory in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
Pipo Derani grabbed the lead with 20 minutes remaining and drove home to victory in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R co-driven by Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran in the 10-hour classic at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“We finally got the win here, in my fourth try, it’s incredible,” said Derani, celebrating his 26th birthday. “I’m really happy and really proud to be part of this team, a big thank you to Whelen, to Action Express, to Cadillac, and for everyone who put this program together, and of course to the crew for making perfect pit stops. We are winners of Petit Le Mans!”
Nasr broke the track record in qualifying, and took that pace into the event – breaking the Road Atlanta race lap record early on and quickly pulling away from the field with qualifying-quality laps. Nasr paced the opening 58 laps before turning the car over to Derani, who then led the next 78 circuits.
“I’m happy with the final result, to get this victory,” said Nasr, who won the endurance classic at Sebring earlier in the year. “When I switched to prototype racing last year, we clinched the title and it was amazing. Before last year, I hadn’t done any of the American circuits other than Daytona, so when I came here, I thought Road Atlanta was the wildest place to drive and the hardest place to win. To have the car running well in the final stages is tricky. There isn’t a margin for error or mistakes, so I’m very pleased to add to my list with this victory.
“Looking back at how the weekend started, from the time we hit the track, the work we did in every session, I just felt that the Action Express guys did a great job to get the car together in every kind of condition out there,” Nasr added. “This place gets pretty wild during the race. I had a pretty good start and was able to manage my pace, opening up a good lead. It was important to control the race, and everybody did their job – from pit stops to driver changes to keeping the wheels on. Eric did a great job as well, it was really a perfect day. My first pole position in IMSA and to get the win is very special.”
Curran was in a new role this season as the team’s endurance specialist. While the No. 31 car came only five points shy of winning the IMSA season title for a second year, it repeated as champions of the Michelin Endurance Cup, giving Action Express Racing a perfect six consecutive triumphs in the four-race competition since sport car racing’s unification in 2014.
“The Endurance Cup is a big deal championship to win, and Action Express just keeps winning one after another,” Curran said. “Road Atlanta has been good to me for years, but never a win. I’ve been trying to win this race for many years, and I’ve come in second a number of times. I’ve also won a few championships here as well. But to come up with a win at Petit Le Mans is pretty impressive.
“The Whelan Cadillac was strong all weekend long, one of the best cars I’d ever driven,” added Curran. “I hadn’t been in the car for a while, not since Watkins Glen, so to come here and try to do a good job for these guys is a bit tricky. They’ve done an unbelievable job all season, second in points and winning the endurance championship. Felipe and Pipo have been strong all year long. They’re a great combo, great teammates. It’s been fun to come on board and support them, try to have some good stints, keep the car out of trouble and up front. That was my job for the day, and these guys make it easy.”