Pipo Derani, co-driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, and Sebastien Bourdais, co-driver of the No. 01 V-Performance Academy Cadillac DPi-V.R, met with the media August 1 via Zoom conference to preview the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America. Derani co-drove to victory in the 2021 race. Bourdais and co-driver Renger van der Zande have won three times this season.
Full transcript by individual driver:
Reigning IMSA DPi champion Pipo Derani, co-driver with Olivier Pla, of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R:
YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS AT ROAD AMERICA. WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEK THERE?“I think Road America is perhaps one of the nicest tracks for any racing driver. It’s very fast, very technical as well and presents a big challenge for the teams to be able to do a perfect setup. I would love to try to get a third win (2021, 2017 in DPi). It hasn’t been an easy season for us, but hopefully in the last two races of the year we can show a little bit better results and get a win.”
WHAT DOES BEING CHAMPION ONE YEAR AND WHERE YOU ARE NOW SAY ABOUT THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE SERIES?“It’s been a reality check to what motorsport is. You have ups and downs during your career. Coming in this year as the champ and having such a difficult year — changing teammates in the middle of the season – it hasn’t been easy. Nevertheless, it’s always a pleasure. You are in one of the most competitive championships in the world; IMSA right now being extremely competitive. Heading to the last two races without a single chance of winning the championship but I think it shows how the championship is so competitive you can’t have any weak link in the team whatsoever.  Cadillac Racing  media resources
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2022 media guide: Historical statistics, why we race, tech transfer, more
Cadillac LMDh test: What they’re saying about latest on-track car development
2021-2017 results
“Once you go and fight against teams that are with the same lineup for two, three years, they are working well together it’s just hard for you to overcome that. So, going into the last few races of the year we have Olivier onboard in the Whelen Engineering Cadillac. I think he’s got up to speed quite well and I’m hoping that we can together put some strong results on the board. Hopefully, we can be in the mix for a win either at Road America or Road Atlanta to finish the year on a strong note. But, again, it shows that in motorsport it doesn’t matter what you do the year before or the last race. As they say, you’re as good as your last race. It’s a constant battle every weekend for you to be at the top because it’s definitely not a given. You should not take it for granted but should always be working hard.”
WHAT’S THE MISSING INGREDIENT THIS YEAR?“To be honest, it’s such a competitive championship first of all. We’re going against pairings that have been working together for a while, and then we welcomed Tristan (Nunez) at the beginning of the year. That’s already in itself a difficult situation when you have to learn a new teammate, to work with someone new and this person has to learn how the team operates. So it takes little bit of time to adapt, and then not only that we had a change in the middle of the season. You repeat the whole process again. When Olivier joined at Detroit, obviously not a very easy track to join and get to learn a new team. It’s just a situation where you’re in a very competitive championship and instead of focusing on details you’re focusing on the driver who’s in the car is getting up to speed quickly. That, in itself, you’re starting on the back foot already. In such a competitive championship, this can’t happen. We’re definitely not missing speed; we’ve been close to a couple of pole positions this year that just didn’t materialize for maybe just a little bit of time. We led more than 50 percent of the Twelve Hours of Sebring. It’s details that make a huge difference when it counts at the very end to have a strong result that we missed. I would say that down not being fully in sync with one another, especially on the driver front. We’re working hard on that. I hope we can have a strong finish to the season. It hasn’t been easy, but Olivier has been up to speed especially in the last two races. From now on it’s a bit of fine-tuning to be back at where we should be. Obviously had going into the last two races of the season. There are only two shots at showing that we were able to do that, but I think if we put everything together there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be where we belong.”
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TRAFFIC AT ROAD AMERICA?“It’s a track that the difference in speed is perhaps a bit higher than the others. If you take Mid-Ohio or even Laguna, the difference between a GT or a P3 to a DPi is not as big as for example Road America. That makes it very interesting as well for us approaching them at speeds that are even shocking for us inside the car. In general, you have quite a lot of space to overtake, especially with the straights. But then you have very tricky corner, which is the Carousel. If you get a GT or a P3 there, it’s a massive difference and you end up losing a lot of time. As the racing progresses, perhaps you can get a little bit luck and get the other guys on the straight. If you’re not that lucky and you get them right before the Carousel, then you’re stuck for a long, long time. That makes it interesting for everyone watching. Not quite as fun for us inside the car, but it’s part of multi-class racing and that’s why we keep coming back.”Sebastien Bourdais, co-driver with Renger van der Zande of the No. 01 V-Performance Academy Cadillac DPi-V.R:TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOU GUYS HAVE AND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEK.“We’ve had a very interesting season with three wins and quite a lot of misfortune. We’ve had a really fast 01 Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing has given us some great cars, but unfortunately, we’ve fallen out of too many races to really be in the championship hunt. We’re going to need some help from the 60 and the 10 to run into issues for us to stay in contention and hope for something in the last race at Petit. Nevertheless, it’s been a fun season. We’ve been running at the front, winning races, feeling strong. Renger put on an incredible performance at Mosport in really challenging conditions. He kind of went for it especially in traffic, which was really awesome. Looking forward to trying to repeat that at Road America. It’s a beautiful racetrack. I only managed to win there once in Champ Car days, but I have a lot of really good memories. It’s one of those places that is extremely rewarding if you get the lap right. It’s one of those cases where it feels really brilliant when you put a lap together and hopefully we can do that in qualifying and have a great race day.”
GIVEN THE WAY THE SEASON STARTED FOR YOU, ARE YOU SURPRISED TO BE GIVEN A SHOT AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT THIS POINT?“From the get-go we were really quick. We’ve had the pace all year long. It’s not been the problem of pace; it’s been a question of completing the races without tripping over something or having issues. It’s a shame that we’ve had so many. When you have three blank results out of a 10-race championship, it’s very unlikely you’re going to end up winning. We knew that basically after Daytona and Sebring that we were going to need to have a perfect season from there on out. Unfortunately, we had another miscue at Laguna, and at that point it was like you pretty much have to be winning or second and need your opposition to have some serious issues, which hasn’t really happened with the 60. Basically, when we’ve won they’ve finished second or third. I’m not the kind of guy who wishes anything bad on anyone; that’s not what I’m saying. At this point, either they are running into some issues in the last two events or it’s pretty much game over with the advantage in points that they have. We don’t really have our destiny on our hands, but we’re going to keep on pushing and going for wins which we have all season. Hopefully, we’re still in it going into Road Atlanta and then it’s a 10-hour race as the championship-decider, which we’ve seen crazier things happen.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE CADILLAC LMDH CAR IN TESTING?“It’s been really exciting; the beginning of a new era. The car is really exciting to drive. The new powerplant, power units and everything that we have with the new regulations it’s a different package, a different balance between downforce, grip level and power. It’s quite cool and I was really excited to get in the car and quite pleased to see what the car was delivering. It’s quite amazing. You sit in a new car like that, in a completely different environment than what was done before, and obviously you have all the electronics and everything that you have to run through. The car was really well born. It just hit the track, we had not done any setup work and it was already quite fun to drive and the lap times were already quite interesting. I think we’re all quite excited and looking forward to the future. I was kind of expecting it to be quite different from the DPi and it’s really not all that different at least in terms of feel. Just looking forward to more progress and more miles in that car.”
IS IT SIMILAR IN HAVING HELPED DEVELOP THE FORD GT AND THE PEUGEOT, BEING AT THE GROUND LEVEL?“Every new car is different, but I feel like there are some many more tools these days. Like the car runs complete with gearbox and engine and really pushes avenues to hit the ground running. The car hits the track and it’s already in the window. I’ve been part of development phases especially with Peugeot. That was really rough and raw and had to work a lot and make a ton of changes. This was completely different. The car was close and it felt right and it was a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to getting back in it.”
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TRAFFIC WITH ALL FIVE CLASSES RUNNING?“It’s tough. Overall, we all kind of understand what needs to happen in order to have a successful interaction. I think the biggest problem us as far as the DPis is when some GT guy decides to block us – very late sometimes in braking zones. Most times it turns into chaos and disasters and it’s just super risky for everybody when you start to move down in the braking zone and shut the door and the DPi lunging in there. Everything else, it’s mostly timing and a bit of luck. You can have a great stint and a great average and things look really good and because you caught traffic at places where it didn’t impact you as far as lap time, and sometimes you keep on getting them at the wrong time. It’s not what anybody is doing; it’s just the luck of the draw. The biggest thing for us is for those other (classes) is to be predictable and drive. It’s much easier when everybody just keeps their heads down and just drives to the best of their ability and be predictable.” 

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