The burned No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi and the crashed and replaced No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 are ready to complete the rest of IMSA’s visit to Road America.
With Pipo Derani’s Nissan catching fire at the beginning of Friday’s opening practice session and Ben Keating incurring chassis damage in an accident towards the end of the one-hour outing, the teams worked well into the night to get their cars in working order.
“The mechanics were amazing and it took a lot of work to get the car ready for today,” Derani told IMSA Radio. “We’re ready to fight.”
The Nissan trailed flames for a few hundred feet before Derani pulled over and climbed out. It took a little while for the emergency crew to get the fire under control, and even with his hasty exit, the pint-size Brazilian had a few burn marks on his gloves and firesuit.
“I didn’t have time to look in my mirror,” he said of the incident. “The guys saw something was wrong because the fuel pressure was going lower and lower so they asked me to try and drive it back to the pits but there was fire in the cockpit.”
As the defending winners of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America, Derani and teammate Johannes van Overbeek will look to turn Friday’s misfortune into a second consecutive victory.
Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen are also hoping to reward the Riley Motorsports team with a win, and based on their speed with a brand-new chassis during Saturday morning’s practice where Keating jumped up to the top three in GT Daytona, it looks more than possible.