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VAN DER ZANDE: Thrilling Tracks and Concerning Moments

Renger van der Zande files his first Sportscar365 column of the year reflecting back on the weekend…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

It was quite a weekend in sports car racing. In the U.S., we had the fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at Mid-Ohio.

But only 1.5 hours away from where I live in Europe, at Spa-Francorchamps, it was time to kick off the FIA World Endurance Championship season. 

I’ll be reporting for Sportscar365 during all of my WEC races this year, and while I was in Mid-Ohio with the Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, I obviously followed the WEC and my DragonSpeed team closely.

Photo: Pietro Fittipaldi Twitter

Thinking of Pietro

First and foremost, I’d like to extend my best wishes to Pietro Fittipaldi. He had an awful crash at Spa, where the car just went straight into the wall at Eau Rouge.

Eau Rouge is never a spot where you want things to go wrong and Pietro’s crash showed us once again that motorsport is still dangerous.

For me, it was hard to watch. Pietro was my replacement driver at DragonSpeed in Spa and although I’ve never actually met him, we’ve had some contact when he was announced at the team.

The crash broke both his legs. It’s good to hear he’s already doing better after just two days and I hope this fast guy makes a full recovery very soon.

Photo: MPS Agency

Spa WEC Season-Opener and Questions on EoT

Spa also saw the WEC debut of Fernando Alonso, which was a cool thing. He’s a hell of a driver and he already had the endurance racing bug after he raced with us in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

He must have picked up some endurance spirit there already, as we saw in the Formula One race at Baku. He drove a two-wheeled car back to the pits, to eventually finish in the points.

This happens in endurance racing often where you need repairs, where you have to fight to finish and score points.

For myself, the LMP1 class is new but for sure I got a lot of questions by a lot of people in the paddock about the rule changes in WEC.

They seem to keep tweaking the rules and it’s all going Toyota’s way at the moment.

This does change the fight in LMP1 but on the other hand; rules are rules and within DragonSpeed it’s easy to deal with them. We drive as fast as we can and who knows?

In IMSA, I love fighting for the overall win and let’s see how far we can go with our LMP1 car, it’s endurance racing after all.

The race in Spa on its own was a good show. It’s so competitive in all classes and I can’t wait to get to Le Mans to get myself in the mix.

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Fighting the Acuras and Mazdas at Mid-Ohio

Of course, we had our own race with Wayne Taylor Racing this weekend. Mid-Ohio is a great little track. It’s one of those tracks that is reward risk-taking. If you nail a lap here, it’s a real thrill.

I love those circuits where the driver can actually make a difference by being brave and taking risks and Mid-Ohio is definitely up there for that with some of the other great tracks in North America.

Pace-wise, we couldn’t match the Acuras and Mazdas. They were just simply on another level.

I qualified our car fifth and finished in the same position. I’m happy for Penske to have their first win in Acura’s backyard and we’ll be sure to take the fight to them next time.

For now, I’m back in Amsterdam for two days. Next weekend I’ll be racing again, in the Nürburging 24 on the 25.378km Nordschleife, racing both the Nos. 47 and 48 Mercedes-AMG GT3a.

Talk about a track where you need bravery to be quick! Wish me luck and talk again soon.

Renger van der Zande (@Rengervdz) is a Dutch sports car racing star, driving for Wayne Taylor Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and DragonSpeed in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ryan Henderson

    May 7, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    VDZ!!!!!

  2. Robert Pfeiffer

    May 7, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    It’s always reassuring to hear that there are still drivers who truly relish those challenging, and yes, dangerous, race courses.

    Hope Pietro continues to have a speedy recovery.

  3. Johnny

    May 8, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Hey, leuke collum!
    Succes komend weekend we zullen hier en in Le Mans voor je supporteren! Misschien ook nog een stuk over Jan zijn afscheid in je volgende collum?

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