Sportscar ace Derani enjoys maiden IndyCar test


Luis Felipe Derani enjoyed his first IndyCar test at Sebring - Credit: Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

Luis Felipe ‘Pipo’ Derani reflected on his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport at Sebring International Raceway, and he hopes it leads to more opportunities in the future.

The Brazilian swapped his prototype drive in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the #5 Dallara-Honda usually driven by James Hinchcliffe, and felt it was a great opportunity to impress in front of team boss Sam Schmidt.

“I only had one day in the car, but I hope to do more in the future,” said Derani to Racer. “My relationship with Sam goes back a few years ago, since I was driving with Ed Brown [co-owner of Derani’s Tequila Patron ESM team in IMSA]; Ed said I needed to try an IndyCar, and Sam said he liked the idea.

“Sam said that since I tested an Indy Lights car with him a while ago, I have gotten a lot more experience since then. I also think Sam likes a little bit that I race prototypes; maybe it reminds him a bit of [former SPM driver] Simon Pagenaud who came [to SPM] from the same type of cars.”

Derani felt his experience in the FIA World Endurance Championship Toyota TS050 LMP1 machine in Bahrain last year prepared him well for his maiden IndyCar test, and felt it was slightly strange to drive an open cockpit car again after nearly two years solely driving with a roof.

“I was taking it very calm, just as another racecar,” said Derani. “The power is nice, very similar to the P1 car I tested in Bahrain last year.

“The braking is really nice, and the thing I enjoyed the most was having my head in the wind. After two years of driving in a prototype, it was a nice experience and I have to thank Sam and the team for the chance.”

Derani hoped that he was able to provide SPM with good feedback during the test, and thanked them for the opportunity that he hopes could lead to further outings down the line and possibly a race seat.

“I did around 100 laps in the car, and it was nice that I could help them do many things on their test list and that they trust me to help develop things,” Derani said. “It felt like I barely got out of the car all day. I hope I was able to help the team with what they needed.

“It’s just a test, but who knows. It’s nice I’ve opened a new door. I have GTs with Ganassi, the prototypes with ESM, and I’m happy for now that the [SPM] team have me the opportunity. I am a lucky guy.

“Where I am today, with the people I have around me, and to do the thing I love with a lot of professional people, is great. Today was a blessed day I will remember forever and I can’t wait until I can back into one of those machines again.”