Team Pelfrey announced Wednesday that Brazilian racer Luis Felipe ?Pipo? Derani will join Canadian Dalton Kellett for the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
Derani, 20, who hails originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, began his racing career in karts, winning the Paulista Junior championship in 2005. He made the switch to cars in 2009, and since then has been based in Europe, competing firstly in Formula Renault before graduating into Formula 3. He won twice in the Cooper Tires British F3 Championship in 2012 before graduating into th FIA European F3 Championship this season. Again he finished eighth, highlighted by a trio of podium finishes. Now, with an eye on his long-term future, he has decided to switch his attention to North America.
?I’m looking and designing my career for 20 years from now,” said Derani, who plans to move up the Mazda Road to Indy via Pro Mazda and Indy Lights, and hopes to compete in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. “Even if I had gone to GP2 or World Series it would have been difficult to ensure that even if everything went well I would be on the F1 grid. It could be a long time and I still might not find a seat.”
“The level of professionalism and intensity that he showed with the team and the engineers prior to getting in the car exceeded my expectations,? said Derani. ?After a few laps in the car it was clear that he was a fast learner, good communicator and very fast. On the second day of testing, with a fresh set of tires, Pipo lit up the track and broke the track record (for an Indy Lights car) by 0.3 second. I knew at that point I needed to help him find his way onto the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Pipo has a bright future ahead of him.?
Derani will start testing with the team at the upcoming Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 9-10 and will gain his first taste of American racing when he lines up on the grid for the pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest in February which will comprise two races at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, La., followed by another pair of races at Barber Motorsports Park. The ?regular season? will commence in support of the IndyCar Series on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 29-30.
?We are hugely excited and feel very privileged to have been able to put a package together for Pipo to join Team Pelfrey for the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship,? said Team Pelfrey team manager Nigel Tuckey. ?We have very high expectations for Pipo as his experience and success in Euro F3 and other international arenas against very stiff competition should place him among the drivers to beat for the championship in 2014.?