Action Express Racing driver Derani has established himself as one of the top drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in recent years with three victories in the Sebring 12 Hours and victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Petit Le Mans.
He has also made sporadic outings in the WEC since becoming a full-time IMSA racer in the middle of 2017, notably racing for the factory Ford and Ferrari GTE Pro teams in the Le Mans 24 Hours and finishing second in class with the former marque.
This year, Derani – who is in his third season as Felipe Nasr’s teammate at AXR – will embark on his first full WEC season since 2016 as part of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus outfit in the top Hypercar class, driving one of the American team’s two 007 LMH challengers.
The 27-year-old told Motorsport.com that he was keen on being part of the new Hypercar division from the very beginning, with manufacturers such as Porsche, Audi, Peugeot, Acura and Ferrari preparing their own cars built to either LMH or LMDh rules in the years to come.
Asked about the significance of not only returning to WEC but also being able to race full-time in the top class for the first time, Derani replied: “It is very important.
“My endurance career started in Europe, and after that it shifted to the US and to IMSA. I always tried to keep a foot in Europe, but with all the date conflicts over the years it was impossible, and my career took off in America.
“Now I have the possibility to run both and in a very positive way, which is to be finally in the top class at Le Mans, which has been a goal of mine for the last five years.
“But the biggest thing is the possibility to develop a new hypercar from the very beginning, which I think will bring me the knowledge and experience which I think will be very important for the future, with so many announcements in both LMH and LMDh.”
#31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi: Pipo Derani
Photo by: Art Fleischmann
He added: “Le Mans has been a big goal of mine. I’m still 27, so I have time with this new era of sportscar racing, and my goal is to win Le Mans in the near future – whether it’s a year from now, or five years now, I still have time to achieve that.
“We’re certainly going to work very hard with this programme to achieve it, despite knowing it will be very difficult against Toyota and Alpine. I won all the big races in the US, Le Mans is the one missing so I’m gonna work very hard to put myself in a position to achieve that.”
Monza test progress encouraging
Derani wouldn’t be drawn on any expectations for how Glickenhaus will fare in WEC this season up against a two-car attack from Toyota, which is fielding the brand new GR010 hypercar, and Alpine’s ex-Rebellion R-13 grandfathered LMP1.
But the Brazilian, who made a sole race outing for Rebellion in the 2019/20 season opener at Silverstone, said the Glickenhaus was in a similar performance window to the R-13 following his first taste of the 007 LMH in a two-day test at Monza earlier this month.
It was only the car’s second test following an earlier rollout at Vallelunga.
“The hypercar is much heavier [than the old LMP1s], which means you feel the extra weight when you’re driving,” explained Derani. “But in the end it’s quite similar and it demands the same driving style as the current DPi and LMP1.
“How far we are in terms of performance right now is still unknown. It’s always difficult when you’re dealing with a car that’s been built from scratch. It’s not an evolution of another car, it was a clean sheet of paper, and to do as many laps as we did at Monza was very positive.
“But I believe if we can continue the progress I saw in those two days, we will be able to evolve and be able to race in a way that we can be proud of.”
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, Glickenhaus 007 LMH
Photo by: Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus