Team Pelfrey Signs Brazilian Pipo Derani for 2014 Pro Mazda Championship
 November 20, 2013| 
  • Team News
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Team Pelfrey today adds another string to its bow by announcing that experienced Brazilian racer Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani will join Canadian Dalton Kellett for the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

Derani, 20, who hails originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, began his racing career in karts, winning the prestigious Paulista Junior championship in 2005. He made the switch to cars in 2009, and since then has been based in Europe, competing firstly in Formula Renault before graduating into Formula 3. He won twice in the Cooper Tires British F3 Championship in 2012 before graduating into the top–level FIA European F3 Championship this season. Again he finished eighth, highlighted by a trio of podium finishes. Now, with an eye on his long-term future, he has decided to switch his attention to North America.

“I’m looking and designing my career for 20 years from now," said Derani, who plans to move up the Mazda Road to Indy via Pro Mazda and Indy Lights, and hopes to compete in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. "Even if I had gone to GP2 or World Series it would have been difficult to ensure that even if everything went well I would be on the F1 grid. It could be a long time and I still might not find a seat."

Derani, who finished a strong third in last weekend’s prestigious Macau Grand Prix, enjoyed a promising Indy Lights test in September with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and found a new mentor in American investor Alan Lewis, who was instrumental in making the decision to move into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2014.

“The level of professionalism and intensity that he showed with the team and the engineers  prior to getting in the car exceeded my expectations,” recounted Lewis. “After a few laps in the car it was clear that he was a fast learner, good communicator and very fast. On the second day of testing, with a fresh set of tires, Pipo lit up the track and broke the track record (for an Indy Lights car) by .3 seconds. I knew at that point I needed to help him find his way onto the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Pipo has a bright future ahead of him.”

Derani will start testing with the team at the upcoming Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on December 9/10 and will gain his first taste of American racing when he lines up on the grid for the pre-season Cooper Tires Winterfest in February which will comprise two races at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, La., followed by another pair of races at Barber Motorsports Park. The “regular season” will commence in support of the IndyCar Series on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 29/30.

“We are hugely excited and feel very privileged to have been able to put a package together for Pipo to join Team Pelfrey for the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship,” said Team Pelfrey Team Manager Nigel Tuckey. “We have very high expectations for Pipo as his experience and success in Euro F3 and other international arenas against very stiff competition should place him amongst the drivers to beat for the championship in 2014.”

Dale Pelfrey’s race team, based in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area, is built upon the same principles he used 35 years ago when establishing his business career – hire the best, acquire the best and expect the best in order to achieve the most. After fielding cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series from 1998 until 2000, Team Pelfrey was reformed in 2011, winning on its Pro Mazda debut and going on to earn the Team Championship as well as second and third in the drivers’ title-chase with Connor De Phillippi and Nick Andries. Team Pelfrey went one better in 2012, guiding Jack Hawksworth to the Drivers’ Championship and earning a second successive Team Championship.
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