Scott Pruett

IMSA

IMSA: Pipo Derani, Whelen Engineering win explosive Petit Le Mans

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Pipo Derani (Whelen Engineering Racing, Cadillac DPi) inherited the lead with 20 minutes remaining after a brake rotor exploded on leader Felipe Albuquerque’s (Mustang Sampling Racing) Cadillac. Derani held the advantage until the checkers waved over the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road America.

With fireworks exploding overhead, there were fireworks on track as well.

On the final lap, with Jordan Taylor (Konica Minolta, Cadillac DPi-V.R) putting pressure on the leader, Derani slammed into the No. 912 Porsche GT with Earl Bamber at the  wheel.

“I flashed a few times,” Derani said in Victory Lane after climbing from his car. “I was flashing every car and I though he saw me, so I went for the dive. I wanted to keep my three-second gap.”

The contact cost Derani a second of time as Taylor closed the gap.

While Derani and the No. 31 team won the battle, Acura Team Penske and the No. 6 won the war. Finishing fourth, one lap behind the leader, Juan Pablo Montoya brought the Acura home high enough in the standings to give him and Dane Cameron the championship.

“It was really a tremendous day,” Cameron said after the race. “It was a little close for comfort there for a couple of hours, but we did exactly what we needed to. We came here with a plan and didn’t have a ton of pace for the first time all year, but we executed perfectly.”

Ricky Taylor and the No. 7 Acura Team Penske team finished third.

“This race is so tough,” race winner Derani said. “I finished second my first time here, was about to win the last two years; it didn’t happen. And today it almost didn’t happen again. But man, it’s fantastic.”

After almost nine and a half hours contact between Toni Vilander (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GT3) and Katherine Legge (Meyer Shank Racing, Acura NSX GT3) set up a 25-minute shootout to the end of the 10-hour endurance event. The full course caution came after a green flag period of four hours, 38 minutes.

At 8:26 ET, Joao Barbosa brought his Cadillac into the pits from the lead and climbed out of it to face an uncertain future.

“It’s very emotional,” Barbosa said on NBCSN after climbing from his car.  “We’ve been at Action Express for more than 10 years and this will be my last race with them. Definitely, when I got out of the car, everything started to feel more real.”

The broken brake rotor sent the team home seventh in class, five laps off the lead.

At 464 laps, this year’s Petit Le Mans set a record for the longest distance, bettering a mark of 443 laps set last year.

GTLM: James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, and Daniel Serra win Le Mans and Petit Le Mans

“We came into this race with a huge unknown,” Calado said after the race. “We didn’t test. We struggled with tires the whole race; we had huge blisters, temperatures were really hurting us and it wasn’t until the end when luckily the temperatures came down and we just got away with it.”

This was the second time the driver lineup of Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra raced together. They won Le Mans.

Ryan Briscoe finished second in the Ford Chip Ganassi No. 67 with Tom Blomqvist in the BMW Team RLL No. 25 finishing third.

Bamber survived the last-lap contact to bring his Porsche GT 912 RSR home with the championship by 13 points over the No. 3 Corvette Racing team and the No. 911 Porsche GT Team.

GTD: Bill Auberlen ties Scott Pruett for most IMSA wins

Bill Auberlen got around Felipe Fraga on the last lap of the Petit Le Mans to score his 60th IMSA victory and tie Scott Pruett for the most.

The final 20 minutes of the Petit Le Mans featured a blistering battle between Fraga and Auberlen. In heavy traffic Fraga fought off a determined charge from Auberlen, who was destined to win on his 51st birthday. Auberlen pressed; Fraga fended off every challenge until he ran out of gas on the final lap just at the driver of the No. 96 was pouncing.

“I wasn’t going to be aggressive for a while,” Auberlen said in Victory Lane. “I was going to wait until he made a mistake. And he didn’t make a big one, so I had to get more and more aggressive and then all of a sudden he got out of the way for me right at the end. Someone was looking down on us.”

Christopher Mies and the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 finished second with Scott Hargrove and the PFAFF Motorsports Porsche 911 rounded out the top three.

The GTD championship went to the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing, Acura NSX GT. They needed only to start the race to wrap up the title, which was fortuitous because they were forced to retire with a broken radiator four hours from the end.

“It’s bittersweet to say the least,” Trent Hindman said. “Going into this final round of the season, we knew all we needed to do was cross the start-finish line and we’d have driver and team championship wrapped up. Which I think is both an accomplishment, for Mario (Farnbacher) and [me], for Mike (Shank), for the entire Meyer-Shank Racing team and crew.”

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