The championship-leading Action Express Racing team will add the highly coveted services of Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani to its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship line-up next season.
The Brazilian will join countryman Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque have been confirmed for a return in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. Eric Curran, the 2016 IMSA Prototype champion with AXR, will step back from his full-time role in the No. 31 and contest the four endurance rounds alongside Derani and Nasr. Christian Fittipaldi will contest his final race with the team in the No. 5 car at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
“Having raced against the team, I am delighted to join Action Express Racing!” said Derani. “I have seen first hand how strong this group is. It is a championship-caliber team that consistently delivers. My goal is to fight for the IMSA championship, and so this is an amazing opportunity.”
With the addition of Derani, AXR’s will have four full-time drivers whose native tongue is Portuguese.
“We have known each other since karting in Brazil, so have followed each other for many years,” Derani said of Nasr. “We both were in open wheel and then our careers took different turns so it is a cool story that now we are racing together as teammates. He’s a great driver and I’m looking forward to sharing some new success with him next year!”
AXR team manager Gary Nelson was pleased to acquire a driver whose stirring performances with the Tequila Patron ESM team have netted victories at Daytona, Sebring, and other marquee IMSA events.
“We are excited to have Pipo joining us next season as he’s tremendously capable and are looking forward to him being a part of our program,” he said. “We will continue to prepare to race for wins, and are fortunate to be working with the strong drivers that we have. Building on our relationships with them only adds to our ability to perform, so it is good to have consistency. Eric (Curran) has been an excellent asset and I’m pleased that we are able to continue with him for our endurance program next year, and hopefully the team can have a big result as Christian (Fittipaldi) makes his final run in the 24 with us.”