The 29-year-old Brazilian, together with co-driver Alexander Sims, sit atop the general standings, with their Cadillac V-Collection.R scoring victory within the 12 Hours of Sebring and two extra podiums by way of eight rounds.
The Action Express Racing duo enter this weekend’s Petit Le Mans with 2,460 factors. The hole on the prime is slender, although, as Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque (Wayne Taylor Racing) path by simply three factors.
Nicky Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche Penske Motorsport) are solely 5 behind, with BMW M Crew RLL’s Connor De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly nonetheless in it at 38 factors behind and fourth within the standings.
With this yr being the primary of the GTP period in IMSA, the training curve has delivered the added variable of unpredictability and lack of consistency.
Among the many 4 groups, solely WTR have failed to seek out Victory Lane, however like AXR have solely two finishes outdoors the highest 5. Jaminet and Tandy have two wins this yr, together with the latest on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway highway course final month, however three outcomes outdoors the highest 5.
Lastly, BMW have scored probably the most podiums among the many contenders with 4, together with a win at The Glen following a post-race penalty to Jaminet and Tandy, who have been initially declared the winners, however have had probably the most erratic outcomes with their three finishes of eighth or worse.
“Clearly, it has been a loopy season for everybody,” mentioned Derani, the 2021 IMSA DPi [now GTP] class champion.
“Fairly truthfully, it is inconsistency that has led to each one among us being inside 5 factors of one another. I feel IMSA, in protection, could not have requested for extra on this new period of GTP racing. I feel everybody looks like they left rather a lot on the desk at instances.
“We gained a race that we should not have gained, however we really feel like we gave up two or three different attainable race wins with errors and errors. And I feel the opposite two automobiles may probably say the identical factor, which is superb in a method as a result of we all know the extent of the championship, we all know the extent of the groups which are concerned and producers.”
#31 Whelen Engineering Racing, Cadillac VSeries.R, GTP: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims
Picture by: Jake Galstad
One of many distinctive elements is that every of the groups set to do battle are represented by 4 completely different producers: Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche.
“For the followers and for everybody concerned, the championship itself, to have the 4 producers combating for the championship within the first yr of GTP, it is unbelievable,” Derani mentioned.
“However if you ask me what’s it going to take to win? I feel having been concerned in a championship struggle and having been concerned in a race win state of affairs at Petit Le Mans, the whole lot can come all the way down to the wire.
“There’s so many issues that may occur throughout a 10-hour race, particularly with these GTP automobiles, that are very complicated and it’s important to undergo 10 hours of racing earlier than you concentrate on a championship. It may be thrilling.”
Moreover, with the help of co-driver Jack Aitken for the prolonged rounds, Derani and Sims additionally lead the Michelin Endurance Cup battle going into the 10-hour occasion.
“There’s additionally the endurance championship that’s taking place and we’re main that one as nicely,” Derani mentioned. “It may be an fascinating race for everybody. Clearly, it should be a canine struggle on the finish as a result of being so shut, it solely signifies that you bought to be forward.
“There is no enjoying video games. There is no math. There’s nothing. It is pure and it is quite simple; you bought to be forward. It may be an eye-catcher.
“I feel it should entice many followers as a result of not solely we now have a struggle for the championship, however we now have 4 automobiles combating for the championship, and that alone goes to be epic.”