With its convincing win at Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring, the No. 22 ESM machine of Pipo Derani, Johannes Van Overbeek & Nicolas Lapierre gave Nissan its fifth victory in this historically challenging Florida sports car race.
Starting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in fourth position, the Nissan-powered No. 22 prototype withstood the rigors of the bumpy circuit & raced into the night eventually finishing more than 12 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. En route to scoring Nissan’s first win at Sebring since 1994, the No. 22 prototype led 158 of the 344 laps & the victory for ESM & Nissan follows other big IMSA wins last year at Road America & Road Atlanta.
This year’s win capped off an up & down day for the team with the no. 2 car of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel & Oliver Pla started on the front row, but retired from the race following contact on the first turn of the first lap. A happy team owner, Scott Sharp said :
“Just wow. What a great day, we needed this so badly. We were heartbroken after Daytona, to win a major endurance race is amazing. These guys just did a great job & with flawless moves. The pit stops were great, the car performed & Nissan did a fabulous job. We needed this.”
For driver Pipo Derani, who took the car to the checkered flag, the race took on a personal meaning with the Brazilian dedicating the win to his ill father at home. he said :
“Just unbelievable, this victory goes to my dad who is watching us back in Brazil & is fighting for his health. I’m just so happy to be able to win & 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.”
The Nissan-powered ESM team will be back in action April 13-14 at the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach.