Sharing the IMSA Weathertech Championship DPi points lead with Cadillac arch-rivals Wayne Taylor Racing, the Whelen Engineering Action Express team has fully shifted into sprint mode for series Round 3 – Saturday’s Bubba Burger Grand Prix on the streets of Long Beach.
Pipo Derani, Eric Curran, and Felipe Nasr romped to a dominant victory in the wet/dry Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, after finishing second in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Derani and Nasr will share the Whelen DPi-V.R. at Long Beach where the team has a history of being fast, claiming the fastest race lap on three occasions, though its best finish was third in 2016.
Last year, the team, with Curran and Nasr, started from the front row and led for 16 laps before an accident with a GT car damaged the front end of the Whelen Action Express machine. Dropping back to 17th overall, Curran fought back to take seventh at the finish.
The duo earned some street race redemption with a victory in Detroit’s Grand Prix on their way to the 2018 IMSA championship, and will be one of the favorites this weekend.
“The team and I are focused on continuing our consistency and I believe that’s key for every race going forward,” said Derani, who has one previous Long Beach start. “As any street track, Long Beach always brings another challenge to the game, with the walls being so close and zero room for error. Despite all that, there’s still some good opportunities for passing — especially when we are in traffic with the GT cars. That makes the race interesting from the beginning to the end.
“Last year was just some bad luck – we had an awesome car, the team did perfect with the stop and strategy, but it just didn’t work out for us. I really love the challenge of the street courses so hopefully we can have a race like [Detroit] – I love this circuit and this event!”
Entering the weekend with the team tied atop the championship standings doesn’t mean anything will change for Nasr and his approach.
“We have to keep working on the details,” said Nasr. “The IMSA Championship is full of very strong contenders that do not stop in their search for speed, and we can only continue to work even harder to continue to have results.
“The balance between longer and shorter [races] is what is so special about the IMSA championship. For drivers, longer races are always better as we have more time to do what we love — drive a superb car in an awesome atmosphere.”