Luis Felipe Derani dedicated his second Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory in three years to his ill father after the Brazilian partnered Nicolas Lapierre and Johannes van Overbeek to take overall honours on Saturday.
The Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi was a contender all afternoon, but after the sister #2 was eliminated on the very first lap, the pressure was on the #22 to bring it home, and they eventually came out on top by 12.427 seconds from the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.
Derani felt the performance of the car throughout the event was ‘unbelievable’, and he thanked the team for giving them a strong car to attack from start to finish.
“Just Unbelievable. It’s the second victory in three attempts,” said Derani. “It’s amazing. From 2016, to having a problem last year, and coming back to win is just amazing.
“This victory goes to my dad who is watching us back in Brazil and is fighting for his health. I’m just so happy to be able to win and know that he’s watching my race. I just have to thank the entire team for giving me this opportunity to win again and win in front of him.”
Lapierre admitted the race played up to its reputation of being extremely tough on both car and driver, and it was ultimately a special day to have a mistake-free race and to take the victory despite the various threats from behind.
“What an amazing day at one of the toughest races in the world,” said Lapierre. “It was a really special day. It was a really great job from everyone on the team: the strategy, the setup of the car, the team in the pit stops, and my teammates on the track.
“Everything was perfect today, and we made no mistakes. I’m really proud of everyone. We weren’t lucky in Daytona, but we fought back hard to be here. I’m really proud of everyone.”
Van Overbeek was delighted the team were able to recover at Sebring after a disappointing opening race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Daytona in January saw the car retire whilst in contention.
“This win couldn’t have been possible without the support of Tequila Patrón,” insisted van Overbeek. “I think ESM proved its mettle today.
“A lot of teams and manufacturers had trouble. The Nissan power worked great all day, and the tyres were great. My co-drivers did an amazing job. It was one of those races were everything fell into place when it needed to.
“We didn’t have any issues whatsoever, and I don’t even think there’s a scratch on the car. That’s the way it should be.”