After a grueling 24-hour marathon, driver Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani and his team, Tequila Patrón ESM Racing, eventually took the overall win during the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which concluded at the Daytona International Speedway last Sunday.
Derani, aboard the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda Ligier, took the checkered flag 26.166 seconds ahead of 2005 overall winner Max Angelelli who drove the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Derani’s victory is celebrated by teammates Scott Sharp (himself a 1996 Rolex 24 winner) Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek.
During an interview with motorsport.com, Derani admitted that the race was nail-biting to the very end, especially during the last 30 minutes. He explained, “We had an alarm of the gearbox temperature and powersteering, which was a little bit scary. Maybe it was just a sensor, my engineer kept me relaxed.”
The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is Derani’s first supercar race in America. The 22-year-old originally came from Brazil where had been known for his successes in British Formula 3 and the Formula Renault 2-litre series. He will continue to race with the ESM throughout the 2016 season while also remaining as a development driver for the Onroak Automotive company.
The grueling 24-hour marathon race has been a staple in Daytona since 1962 with the Rolex 24 featuring races among four classes of cars: the 450-600 horsepower Prototype Class, the 430 horsepower Prototype Challenge Class, the 490 horsepower GT Le Mans (GTLM) Class and the 450 horsepower GT Daytona Class.
Among the other classes, Oliver Gavin took the win from teammate Antonio Garcia at the Rolex 24 GT Le Mans class while drivers Andy Lally, Rene Rast, Marco Seefried and John Potter of Magnus Racing won the GT Daytona class. Meanwhile, drivers Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Kenton Koch of JDC-Miller Motorsports took the victory at the Prototype Challenge.