The collision occurred on the run to Turn 17 just 45 minutes into the 12 Hours, when Action Express Racing’s Derani attempted to regain the lead of the race that he’d lost earlier to the similar Cadillac of van der Zande for Chip Ganassi Racing.
As they came up to lap two GTD cars, Derani dived to the inside of van der Zande, who was already being squeezed from the outside by the Aston Martin of Ian James.
Contact was made, and Derani’s car came off worst, breaking a steering arm and a rear suspension link against the inside wall. Derani immediately radioed-in, claiming that van der Zande “absolutely drove me straight into the wall” but IMSA decided it was a racing incident.
After climbing out of his car, van der Zande went on the offensive, telling NBCSN: “I think Pipo should be in horse jumping, he’d be a world champion. He thinks he can go over people instead of passing them in a nice way. In the last five, six races we saw him doing all kinds of moves like this.
“I mean, I like the guy, he’s a great guy to talk to, but on the track he’s just too wild. He was almost wiping out four cars in one time in that last Turn 17 corner. I think for Pipo he just needs to chill out. He’s taken himself out far too many times now, and I just feel bad for the team. I think they have a fast car, the car to win today, but not so clever.”
Action Express’s Tim Keene disputed that view of the incident and believes van der Zande should have been penalized for the clash.
“We obviously don’t agree with no-call on that,” said Keene. “With it being early in the race, and on cold tires, we had position on the #01, we felt he just turned us into the wall. We just seem to be the bug in those situations and it’s kinda getting old.”
Derani has had several controversial collisions recently, most notably a running feud with the Team Penske stable last season which led to him punting off Juan Pablo Montoya at Sebring in November. This followed Ricky Taylor’s overambitious attempted pass on him at Petit Le Mans that sent the AXR Cadillac into a sandtrap, allowing Wayne Taylor Racing to snatch the victory.
When asked if it was difficult to keep Derani cool in the car as he completed his opening stint, Keene replied: “We’ve talked to him about that.
“We have a really good car, we just need some yellows to get wavearounds to get back in the fight.”