Derani aims for endurance triple crown with Le Mans win

The winner of this year’s Daytona and Sebring endurance classics, Pipo Derani, is targeting an historic triple-crown in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Derani aims for endurance triple crown with Le Mans win
Pippo Derani, WEC-driver
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Chris Cumming, Pipo Derani
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Chris Cumming, Pipo Derani
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 - Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Chris Cumming, Pipo Derani
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Chris Cumming, Pipo Derani
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 - Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, Christopher Cumming
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 - Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, Christopher Cumming
Race winner Pipo Derani, ESM Racing
#2 ESM Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani
#2 ESM Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani
#2 ESM Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani
#2 ESM Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani
#31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 - Nissan: Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, Christopher Cumming

The Brazilian, who will race the #31 ESM Ligier-Nissan LMP2 car at his second Le Mans this month, could become the first driver to ever stand on the top step of the overall Daytona and Sebring podiums and go on to take class honours in Le Mans in the same calendar year.

But Derani knows that it will be a hard road ahead at La Sarthe, as he believes the rival ORECA 05 LMP2 car has a significant straight-line speed advantage.

“The ORECA will be very competitive, as they have a year of experience after winning it last season and then developing,” Derani told Motorsport.com.

“The Ligier JS P2 we have is 10cms wider than the ORECA and so we are slower in the straights. When you combine this to the end of the LMP2 development cycle with new rules in place for 2017, we have reached a very good level of the Ligier car but the ORECA is a tough opponent.

"I think a lot this year will be down to good preparation within the team. We took a lot from Spa, where we weren’t the fastest but we ended up battling for the win and being good in the pits, so it is this kind of spirit we will carry in to Le Mans.”

The 22 year-old, who was a revelation in his performances at Daytona and Sebring earlier this year, appears to be revelling in his new status in the ESM team, which is operating together with the OAK Racing concern this season.

“I think that it all happens naturally when you win big races and show you can get the job done,” said Derani, who finished fourth in the LMP2 class of last year's Le Mans.

"The feeling within the team is that you get respected a bit more, and this is a nice feeling, but also it brings some more pressure too.

"The confidence that the team and I have in each other is really positive. You know, Rubens [Barrichello] told me after Daytona, 'Remember that you are only as good as your last race.’

"He’s right and that is the mentality I have to keep on with.”

Endurance triple crown would be ‘amazing’

The last time any driver got close to the endurance racing triple crown was in 2000, when Olivier Beretta, Dominique Dupuy and Karl Wendlinger took their ORECA-run Chrysler Viper to an overall Daytona win and then class victories at Sebring and Le Mans.

“It would be amazing to do three wins at Daytona, Sebring and the LMP2 class at Le Mans, but as I said it will be very hard to achieve,” continued the Brazilian.

“Also we are focused on the FIA WEC LMP2 title, we are in a good position after the first two races and it is really important to us, so we must aim for good points anyway."

He added: “Last year was not only my first Le Mans but also my first 24 Hour race, so I feel that this year I am much more prepared to tackle Le Mans again.

"I think having the experience now and having won a 24 Hours race [Daytona] ill definitely help me to arrive at Le Mans in a much better place.

Derani’s success has ensured that there is plenty of speculation about some of the current LMP1 teams taking an interest in his future prospects.

“I feel ready to make the next step, I just need to get a chance to show what I can do,” he said. “I feel I have the necessary experience now to at least get chance, anything more than that I can’t really say.

"When you look at a guy like Brendon [Hartley] and the great job he is doing and you look at his experience before he went to Porsche, then it is similar to what I will have at the end of this year.

"I just need to be at the top of any lists when the opportunities come and keep on performing.”

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