The Detroit-to-Le Mans dash debrief

June 3, 2019

The Detroit-to-Le Mans dash debrief

June 3, 2019

For some IMSA drivers, Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic was only their first race of the day.

The annual “Detroit-to-Le Mans” dash began shortly after the checkered flag fell at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

The flyover that started the race in Detroit served as a metaphor for what was to come.


Eleven drivers entered Saturday in Detroit will race in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Once the checkered flag flew in Detroit, most of those 11 left the track immediately. They’d then be en route to Le Mans on Saturday night to arrive for Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day, which is the only opportunity in advance of race week to run on the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

Patrick Lindsey, Park Place Motorsports team principal and Patrick Long’s regular IMSA co-driver, flew multiple IMSA competitors to the Le Mans test as “Pilot in Command” of a Mira Vista Aviation operated charter. Lindsey is the owner and President of Mira Vista. 

Here’s what the drivers said before embarking on the mad dash after the race, which is usually a tight squeeze.

#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, GTD: Patrick Long

Patrick Long: “With the theme of tight timing, it’s a very compressed schedule. We get our race in at Detroit and jump in a plane to land Sunday morning thousands of miles away in Le Mans, France to go straight into another Porsche race car. We did it last year with our partners at Mira Vista, and it worked out well. So, I think we’ll be prepared to attack Le Mans on Sunday.”

Pipo Derani: “We will fly directly to the track at Le Mans after the race with a lot of other drivers. I think it will be quite good to do that to be ready for the test day.”


In the IMSA DPi class, there are eight drivers from Detroit racing at Le Mans. That list is as follows:

#31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Pipo Derani
  • Filipe Albuquerque, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R (IMSA), No. 22 United Ligier JS P217 (Le Mans)
  • Ricky Taylor, No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 (IMSA), No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 (Le Mans)
  • Renger van der Zande, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R (IMSA), No. 10 DragonSpeed BR1 (Le Mans)
  • Pipo Derani, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R (IMSA), No. 89 Risi Ferrari (Le Mans)
  • Will Owen, No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R (IMSA), No. 32 United Ligier JS P217 (Le Mans)
  • Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell, No. 55 Mazda RT24-P (IMSA), No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi GT (Le Mans)
  • Oliver Jarvis, No. 77 Mazda RT24-P (IMSA), No. 89 Risi Ferrari (Le Mans)

All except Ricky Taylor will race with Michelin at both Detroit and Le Mans. Taylor will race with another tire brand in LMP2 at Le Mans.

All except Owen tested on Sunday in Le Mans, although Owen was due to arrive in Europe shortly thereafter. Here were the times.

Photo courtesy WeatherTech Racing

For Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander, the gap in results from Detroit to Le Mans was as wide as the Atlantic Ocean they flew over.

A first lap incident took their No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari out of the IMSA race. But after heading to France to drive the Scuderia Corsa-run and prepared, WeatherTech Racing-entered No. 62 Ferrari they’ll share with Robert Smith, things improved dramatically. Vilander’s time of 3:56.862 topped the GTE-Am time charts.

“Great day,” Vilander said. “It is a great feeling to be back at Le Mans. It is a special race track. We have a new car and sometimes you worry that things won’t go so well but that was not the case today.

“We wanted to put in a good lap time to confirm our preparation. And we confirmed the WeatherTech Ferrari is good. We worked together to improve the car during the day. I am looking forward to coming back in a week to get ready for the race.”


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