No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Wins Motul Petit Le Mans While No. 6 Acura Team Penske Hangs On For DPi Championship
- Category: Motul Petit Le Mans
- Published: Saturday, October 12 2019 22:36
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi did everything it could in an attempt to repeat as Daytona Prototype international champions in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Even by winning Saturday’s thrilling Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the No. 31 couldn’t unseat the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi from the 2019 season title. By placing fourth on Saturday, No. 6 drivers Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya held on for the DPi crown by five points. And along with third driver Simon Pagenaud, they sealed the team title in the Acura Team Penske program’s second season.
In a race that saw a record 465 laps completed on the 2.54-mile Michelin Raceway road course (1,181.1 miles) – 22 laps more than last year’s previous standard. But it came down to a 25-minute trophy dash to the finish following the last of four full-course cautions in the iconic 10-hour race to close the WeatherTech Championship season.
The final restart saw the No. 31’s Action Express teammate, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, take the green flag in the lead with Filipe Albuquerque at the wheel. Pipo Derani, celebrating his 26th birthday, was in the saddle of the second-place No. 31 – which needed to win the race and have the No. 6 finish ninth or worse to pull off the championship repeat.
Derani hounded Albuquerque until the No. 5 suddenly skidded off track in Turn 10 with just under 20 minutes remaining. As the No. 31 zoomed into the lead, the No. 5 pulled into pit lane, the victim of a badly damaged left front brake rotor that ended its night.
From there, the No. 31, shared in the race by co-drivers Derani, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, took the checkered flag .996 seconds ahead of the defending race champion, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. shared by Renger van der Zende, Jordan Taylor and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
“I’ve been trying to win this race for the last three years,” Derani said. “I finished second on my first time here in 2016, and last year I was close for the overall win and it slipped away in the last few minutes on both occasions. To finally have it this year is fantastic.
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