Derani and team-mate Felipe Nasr have gained three of the previous 4 IMSA races of their #31 AXR Cadillac, following their first win of the 12 months at Watkins Glen with additional triumphs at Highway America and in the latest spherical at Lengthy Seaside.
That has introduced the Brazilian pair to inside 19 factors of WTR Acura duo Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor, that means a win in Saturday’s 10-hour race could be sufficient to ensure both crew championship glory.
Nasr gained the title with Eric Curran in 2018, however for Derani it might be a primary IMSA title.
“We have now some nice momentum, profitable three out of the final 4 races, and we head into the ultimate weekend very excited,” Derani advised Autosport.
“For positive [in the middle of the season] we knew it might be troublesome, as a result of the [#10 WTR] Acura was having such a powerful season. Our mentality was simply to get again to profitable races, and with that in thoughts, we weren’t fascinated with whether or not it was doable to catch up.
“With that mentality we turned our season round. Once we bought the primary win of the season in Watkins Glen, it felt like a large weight off our shoulders, and issues began to click on.”
Though he and Nasr gained Petit Le Mans two years in the past, Derani stated this 12 months’s later race and the cooler temperatures – together with the additional night-time working – makes the aggressive order even more durable to foretell than regular.
“We’re heading to Highway Atlanta a bit later within the 12 months and I feel the climate shall be very totally different to what we’ve had up to now,” he stated.
#31 Motion Categorical Racing Cadillac DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani
Photograph by: Peter Burke / Motorsport Images
“That colder climate might be going to be an element. However everybody should work out the right way to alter the set-up for the temperatures, so we’re assured.
“It’s been a superb observe for us up to now but additionally the Acura, so it will likely be a really tight combat between all of us, even the Mazda typically does nicely within the colder climate. Additionally, this 12 months we now have extra night-time hours, so it’s going to be an enormous problem for positive.”
Petit Le Mans carries further significance for the AXR crew, as it is going to mark the ultimate race of the three-season partnership between Nasr and Derani aboard the #31 machine.
It comes amid Nasr’s anticipated transfer to Porsche’s LMDh venture, with ex-Mazda driver Tristan Nunez having already been named as Derani’s team-mate at AXR for 2022.
However Derani says there shall be no room for sentimentality till the season finale is over.
“For us, it’s simply one other race,” Derani insisted.
“We’ve had a good time during the last three years, we’ve had a extremely robust partnership, however we gained’t really feel something totally different from the previous, we simply need to win the race and hopefully the championship.
“We go there with the identical mentality with which we gained three races. And if it’s sufficient, then perhaps afterwards we’ll take into consideration how particular it was to finish the story that method.”
#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 Acura DPi, DPi: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, winner, podium
Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
WTR’s Albuquerque anticipating even combat
Albuquerque heads to Highway Atlanta hoping to assert a primary IMSA title, he and Taylor having led the DPi standings since their victory in January’s Daytona 24 Hours.
Since then, WTR pair Albuquerque and Taylor have added additional victories at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca, however struggled to fourth place in the latest spherical at Lengthy Seaside as Cadillac groups locked out the rostrum on the iconic road venue.
Whereas anticipating a stronger exhibiting at Highway Atlanta, Albuquerque says he and Taylor’s 19-point benefit will depend for little or no come race day.
“We have been main the championship since race one, however meaning nothing as a result of it’ll be all the way down to who finishes forward of the opposite man on this final race,” Albuquerque advised Autosport.
“It will be super-cold, it will probably rain, which is able to combine it up quite a bit.
“We got here from a race which was actually exhausting for us in Lengthy Seaside. The one earlier than that, Laguna, we gained.
“Possibly our automobile was a bit of bit higher [there] however I feel at Petit it’s fairly even. So [Cadillac] are a bit of bit higher in gradual corners however then there are quick corners to compensate for that, so it is form of a fair observe for each.
“I’m going into the race with excessive expectations to be aggressive, to not be the very best of the remainder in Lengthy Seaside, which was method an excessive amount of. In final race everybody has a good likelihood to win it.”