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Derani’s Honda Ligier Pulls Away Late To Win 24

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 31 2016
The field of the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway saw a lot of the rear end of the No. 3 Honda Ligier P2 car of Tequla Patron Racing. With Pipo Derani at the wheel in the final stint, the No. 3 claimed the overall victory.

The field of the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway saw a lot of the rear end of the No. 3 Honda Ligier P2 car of Tequila Patron Racing. With Pipo Derani at the wheel in the final stint, the No. 3 claimed the overall victory.

Add Honda and Ligier to the list of engines and cars that have claimed overall victories in the historic Rolex 24 sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.

And add the name of Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani to the list of overall winning drivers to the list, as well.

rolex 24 logoDerani drove several key stints in the 2016 Rolex this weekend and was at the wheel when the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda HPD Ligier JS P2 crossed the finish line at the head of the 54-car field on Sunday.

At the end, Derani was 26.1 seconds ahead of Max Angelelli, who finished second in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP car.

It’s the first Rolex 24 win for ESM Racing, owned by Ed Brown and Scott Sharp.

“The last two-and-a-half hours were pretty tough, pretty intense, with the Taylor brothers (Ricky and Jordan in the No. 10) pushing us really hard,” Derani said. “So to not make any mistakes and increase the gap up to the end was amazing.”

Third was the No. 90 Corvette DP of Visit Florida Racing, being driven on the final stint by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“Third place wasn’t what we came here for but that’s usually the case if it’s not a win,” said team owner Troy Flis. “We wanted to win this one and we did everything we could in our powers, but we came up short. It’s the best finish our team’s ever had here in the 24 hours as an overall finish so I’m really proud of that. Heading out of Daytona third in the championship is great for us. It gives us good points and that’s what we’re looking for because we want to clinch that championship this year.”

“It was great, absolutely a blast to be with the team,” Hunter-Reay said. “I just wanted to win this race so bad. I’ve been on the podium quite a few times and everybody here wants it to win so badly, so we’re going to keep working, we’re determined to get something out of it here.”

Those three cars were the only Prototypes to finish on the lead lap.

C0-driving the winning car were Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and Johannes Van Overbeek.

Fourth was Joao Barbosa in the 2015 series champion No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP. He was five laps off the pace at the end.

In GT Le Mans, however, the racing was tight between a large group of cars from flag to flag. At the \
finish, Oliver Gavin drove the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to the victory.

To get the win, Gavin had to physically bump the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber out of the way

The No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R, driven by Oliver Gavin beat teammate Antonio Garcia to the finish line by a half car length on Sunday. (Photo by Richard Prince for Chevy Racing)

The No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R, driven by Oliver Gavin beat teammate Antonio Garcia to the finish line by a half car length on Sunday. (Photo by Richard Prince for Chevy Racing)

with just over a half hour left in the race and then hold off teammate Antonio Garcia, who spent the final 15 minutes all over Gavin’s bumper.

Garcia finished second in a sister C7.R, just .034 seconds back – though, technically, he was alongside of Gavin at the finish line.

“To race against Antonio is a pleasure,” Gavin said. “He’s an amazing teammate, and I knew I was going to have my work cut out to beat him.”

The winning car overcame a 60-second penalty for a pit light exit violation, which occurred in the 21st hour.

Garcia, who shared the No. 3 car with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller, also had a penalty earlier in the race for speeding on pit road. He was able to make the finish ultra exciting by opting for fresh tires on his final stop.

Bamber, who was passed by Garcia with 20 minutes to go, finished third.  Behind him was Alessandro Pier Guidi in a Ferarri 488, which was making its racing debut. Bamber shared the ride with Fred Makowiecki and Michael Christensen

Behind him was Agusto Farfus in one of the BMW M6s, which were making their IMSA debut.

Co-driving with Gavin were Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

In GT Daytona, the racing was equally tight for most of the 24 hours. In the end, the new No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS, with Rene Rast at the wheel, got the victory. Co-driving the winning Audi were Andy Lally, John Potter and Marco Seefried.

“This means my little sister gets a watch,” said Lally, who has won a total of eight Rolexes (and given six of the previous seven away) with his five class wins and three series titles. “This was teamwork. This was amazing. …

“We were the little engine that could today. We probably had the slowest top speeds of everybody, but we had a really good-handling car, and we had superstars that were driving this thing who were my teammates.”

Nicky Catsburg finished second in the No. 540 Porsche GT3 R, 3.048 seconds behind Rast.

Winning in the Prototype Challenge class was Kenton Koch in the No. No. 85 spec Oreca FLM09.

Second was Tom Kimber Smith while Johnny Mowlem was third.

With just under three hours to go, Van Overbeek made things interesting when he was issued a a penalty for speeding on pit road. His No. 2 Tequila Patron Honda-Powered Ligier was the fastest in the field and had a comfortable lead when the penalty was issued.

While Van Overbeek was serving his penalty, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP took the lead, which was over 40 seconds over Van Overbeek.

The defending Rolex-winning car – the No. 2 Chip Ganassi-owned Ford EcoBoost Riley – ended its run in the final three hours when NASCAR driver Kyle Larson had brake problems, missed a turn and slammed into a tire barrier.

“The four laps previous we started getting brake issues again,” Larson said. “They said it looked like I had just lost all my rear brake, but it was locking my fronts up pretty easy, so I started braking really early. …

“It didn’t slow down enough to make the corner, and I drilled the barrier. We didn’t have a shot to win anyway, but it does suck that we tore up a race car, and I’m disappointed.

“I’m glad I’m going to be here in two weeks in a stock car.”

That wreck brought out a full-course caution, which allowed Van Overbeek to restart just behind Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 WTR Corvette. But Taylor soon began gapping the Ligier and within 15 minutes, had a 7-second lead. That lead grew larger and looked solid until Taylor got caught behind the lapped No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Riley, which allowed the No. 2 Ligier, with Derani driving, to catch Taylor.

With 1 hour and 45 minutes left, the No. 2 Ligier Honda passed the WTR Corvette for the lead and began to pull away.

Fifteen minutes later, the margin between the lead Derani’s Ligier and the WTR Corvette was 7.5 seconds. Another 23 seconds back was the No. 90 Corvette DP with Hunter-Reay at the wheel.

With an hour and 25 minutes left, Ricky Taylor pitted and Jordan Taylor took over in the WTR Corvette and drove the final stint.

With an hour remaining, Derani had a 7.3-second lead over Jordan Taylor but Derani was reporting a gearbox warning light was flashing on the car’s instrument panel.

With 47 minutes to go, Taylor announced over his radio that he was experiencing a drive-train vibration and added, “it’s not good”.

With 41 minutes to go, both the No. 3 and the No. 10 cars pitted for fuel. Max Angelelli took the wheel in the WTR Corvette as Jordan Taylor, who has been ill in recent days, had to exit.

Angelelli could never mount any kind of charge, however.

In the first 12 hours:

A large handful of contenders in all classes ran into trouble. Among those were the early favorites in both the Prototype and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, and last year’s overall race winner.

The action started in the eighth hour when Tony Kanaan, driving the defending race-winning No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, went behind the wall with a brake issue while running second. One hour later, the class of the Prototype field retired when Ozz Negri pulled the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Tire Kingdom Honda Ligier JS P2 off the track with an engine failure while leading.

That left the battle for the Prototype lead and the race for the maximum five Patrón Endurance Cup points awarded at the 12-hour mark to none other than the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP of Scott Pruett – who enters the race tied with Hurley Haywood with five overall Rolex 24 wins – and the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 of Pipo Derani. Derani passed Pruett with five minutes remaining in the segment to earn the maximum five points.

Through two segments the No. 2 Tequila Patrón Honda Ligier JS P2 and the No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP – which finished the second segment in third – lead the Prototype class with seven points in the four-race competition that makes up the four longest endurance races in the WeatherTech Championship. The Michael Shank Racing entry also has seven points, but is out of the race and will score the minimum two points in the two remaining segments.

A major shakeup also occurred in the GTD class in the 10th hour. The No. 16 Pertamina/Monster Energy Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Justin Marks and the No. 48 Castrol/Universal Industrial Services Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Bryce Miller collided in Turn 1 while battling for the lead, knocking both out of contention. The No. 48 Lamborghini is tied for the Patrón Endurance Cup lead at seven points with the race-leading No. 23 Team Seattle/Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3R.

The No. 52 Professional Security Consultants ORECA FLM09 of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has led at the end of both segments to lead in PC with 10 points, while the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR team leads the way with nine points in GTLM. The No. 912 Porsche is second with seven points, along with the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE which leads at halfway.


| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 31 2016
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