By IMSA Wire Service
MONTEREY, Calif. – In a wild two-hour and 40-minute penultimate round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi co-drivers Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek rebounded from early setbacks to score their second victory of the season in the America’s Tire 250.
Van Overbeek started the car from the rear of the Prototype grid as he missed Saturday’s qualifying session due to illness, and he managed to avoid an opening-lap incident that removed the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Joao Barbosa before the starting line and damaged several other cars.
Van Overbeek pitted to turn the car over to Derani just 22 minutes into the race. After a restart following the race’s third full-course caution just 46 minutes into the race, Derani spun in Turn 2, but his Nissan DPi avoided serious damage. The Brazilian methodically worked his way forward following the spin, moving into the top five for the first time an hour and eight minutes into the race and staying there for most of the remainder of the race.
He was running second with 35 minutes remaining when race leader Harry Tincknell spun the No. 55 Mazda DPi while attempting to pass the lapped car of Gustavo Yacaman. Derani inherited the lead as a result and never was challenged for the rest of the race en route to victory. He won by 10.9 seconds over Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 machine.
“My team is amazing,” Derani said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have finished where we finished today. We had a tough race with contact and spin. They kept pushing me over the radio. Save fuel, save tires, but kept pushing me all the time.
“It was an amazing day. I had an overtake on the Corkscrew, which is nice. This team, no matter what happens they keep fighting and fighting. We’ve had a tough season, but here we are with two wins. We’ve had a lot of DNFs, but a nice race today, and an amazing finish here.”
It was the first win for Derani and van Overbeek since March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. For van Overbeek, it was his 15th IMSA win (six WeatherTech Championship, 8 American Le Mans Series, 1 GRAND-AM), and it was Derani’s fifth IMSA win, all coming in WeatherTech Championship competition.
“Hats off to the Patron guys today,” said van Overbeek, who also won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 2014. “They did a fantastic job. There was a lot of attrition and an uncharacteristic number of yellows today. But we fought through and Pipo did an amazing job as usual.
“The stops were spot on, the car was great, he Continental tires were great and the Nissan motor made good power. I couldn’t be happier.”
Braun and co-driver Jon Bennett made huge gains in the Prototype championship chase with their runner-up result, their fourth consecutive top-two performance. With only the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 13 remaining on the schedule, Braun and Bennett now trail leaders Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr by four points, 254-250. Curran and Nasr finished fifth in Sunday’s race in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron finished third in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi car for their fourth podium result of the season. Tincknell battled back to finish fourth following the spin to finish fourth in the No. 55 Mazda DPi with co-driver Jonathan Bomarito.
After coming into the race just seven points out of the Prototype points lead, Barbosa’s co-driver, Filipe Albuquerque, is now a near insurmountable 33 points behind his points-leading teammates from Action Express Racing. As the No. 5 Cadillac did not cross the start-finish line on the opening-lap incident, the car and its drivers did not earn any points.
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 13. Live television coverage begins on FS1 at 10:30 a.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will provide live, flag-to-flag coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 119/XM 202/App 972).
Tickets are available now at RoadAtlanta.com.