Pipo Derani took the first non Cadillac victory of the 2017 Weather Tech Sports Car Championship with a brilliant victory at Road America.
Derani’s win aboard the ESM Ligier Nissan came from a quick pitstop and a decisive overtake around the outside of long time race leader Jordan Taylor on the restart of the race’s third caution.
Until the final hour the race had been straightforward, the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac had lead from pole and held the advantage in pace and strategy.
But with 55 minutes remaining, the #24 GTLM BMW of John Edwards ground to a halt and in doing so brought out the race’s second caution.
Instantly the entire prototype field dived in, with the exception of the off sequence #85 JDC Miller Motorsports Ligier.
While the Taylor Cadillac was first out, slick pitwork by the ESM team saw the two Nissans jump the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and lined up behind Taylor when the green flag was waved.
Using the grunt of the Nissan engine Derani managed to get alongside Taylor on the front straight and went around the outside of the Cadillac at turn one.
Behind them in the GTLM field Dirk Werner in the #911 Porsche tried the same manouver of Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette. However on this occasion Garcia hipchecked the Porsche onto the grass resulting in it spinning into the gravel and bringing out another caution.
This additional caution eased the fuel worries of everyone and more important it brought Derani right onto the tail of the yet to stop Miller Ligier of Simpson.
While Derani attacked on the restart there was no need as Simpson did not have the fuel to stretch to the end.
The decision not to pit during the first caution proved to be costly as it required two stops to bring the #85 car home in eigth place and last of the prototypes.
Despite another caution when Andy Lally thumped the wall in the GTD Acura, Derani was electifying off the restart and quickly built up a four second gap that Taylor could not bridge with 15 minutes remaining.
He managed to hold off Derani’s team-mate Ryan Daziel for third and further increased the Taylor brothers commanding lead in the title standings.
In GTLM Ford looked to have it all their own way throughtout most of the race, holding a commanding 1-2 with the #66 of Joey Hand leading team-mate Richard Westbrook in the #67.
Yet the caution fell perfectly for the off sequence #912 Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor who needed less fuel and as a result jumped the two Fords to take the lead.
Hand managed to dispose of Vanthoor on the second restart but was unable to pull away, eventually taking victory by 0.7 seconds, with Westbrook taking third.
GTD was dominated throughout by the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW in the hands of Jens Klingmann. By the time of the caution he had built up a substantial lead of 16 seconds in his stint and despite the constant interruptions, he remained out front.
Second went to the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister who managed to crawl its way from the back of the field.
In PC James French, Patricio O’Ward and the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports team continued their domination of the category winning by nearly a lap from Gustavo Yacamam and the much delayed Buddy Rice in the two BAR1 Motorsport cars.