Pipo Derani overcomes early crash for 4th Sebring victory
Pipo Derani won the 12 Hours of Sebring for a fourth time Saturday night when Action Express Racing inherited the victory after a crash between the leaders with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The No. 31 Cadillac started from the pole but bounced throughout the GTP field in a 12-hour race of attrition at Sebring International Raceway.
Jack Aitken, the endurance driver for Action Express, was running fourth when Wayne Taylor Racing crashed with both the Porsche Penske Motorsports entries. Filipe Albuquerque in an Acura for WTR tried to squeeze inside Mathieu Jaminet for the lead, but Jaminet had to swerve low to avoid lapped traffic and contact with Albuquerque knocked the Acura off the track.
Albuquerque sped through a grassy turn and returned to the racing surface, only to slam directly into Jaminet. It caused a multi-car crash in which Felipe Nasr in the second Penske Porsche, running third, was collected.
Aitken, a British racer and reserve driver in Formula One, closed out the victory for Action Express in his second career IMSA sports car race.
“Obviously it was quite tricky in the end. There’s a lot going on,” Aitken said. “We were struggling a lot with the tires at the end and it’s not the way you want to win the race, but we were there when we needed to be and kept it clean.”
Derani, who won the pole for the race in the Cadillac V-Series.R, was thrilled to claim a fourth win after he crashed early in the race. He also felt for the leaders, who were in a three-car battle until their race-ending crash in the waning minutes of the race.
“I’m sorry for the guys who crashed, they did an amazing race, but, you know, you’ve got to be lucky a little bit in motorsports,” the Brazilian said. “We had a flawless race after the incident in the beginning, we recovered well, so just fantastic to be here for number four.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing finished second in a BMW M Hybrid V8 with a lineup of Connor de Phillippi, Nick Yelloly and Sheldon Van Der Linde.
There was so much attrition in the top GTP class that overall third-place went to the Tower Motorsports entry that included IndyCar star Scott McLaughlin in just his second IMSA sports car race.
The Tower team came back to win after Kyffin Simpson, a development driver in IndyCar, crashed earlier in the race. John Farano, who is 63 years old, is the third driver in the lineup.
“Young bloke Kyffin drove well, so did John, but our team really put us on the right path to get our car together after our little guy’s misdemeanor,” McLaughlin said. “We will let him off the hook now that we’re in victory lane.”
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