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Van der Zande: CGR Kept Tire Strategy Call to “Last Minute”

Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais on completing Long Beach race on single set of Michelin tires…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Renger van der Zande said the decision to complete the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on the same set of Michelin tires came as an “on the spot” strategy call that helped propel he and Sebastien Bourdais to victory.

The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R broke a near one-year winless streak on Saturday, with van der Zande and Bourdais picking up their second Long Beach win in the last three years.

Additionally, it marked the second consecutive Long Beach race that saw the winning car complete the 100-minute contest on the same set of tires.

“When we woke up this morning it was quite cold and the sun came out at one point and it started to warm up,” van der Zande said.

“We really left it until the last minute to decide.

“I think that’s the best you can do in racing. If you [make] a plan or where to go, it never turns out the same way.

“We made the decision right at the spot. They made the right choice for sure.”

The Gold and black-colored Cadillac leapt ahead of the pole-sitting No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac due to the quicker stop and time needed to warm-up the tires, which second-placed driver Pipo Derani estimated at three seconds.

Van der Zande said: “Strategy won this race but on top of it, it’s how the execution was on the pit stop, [also] with the setup, getting a car that you can fight with.

“For sure, those tires were kind of gone at the end… It was a handful, especially easy to lock up the fronts, which on a street track I think is quite the end of the race most of the time.

“When I got in the car, I knew I had to keep the tires alive, so I kept control of the race and didn’t over-push it or over-drive those tires so I had some rubber left at the end of the race.

“That was the key for me on how to manage the tires and it worked out that way.

“In traffic it got really hairy at one point because the GT Lamborghini and the Aston Martin were fighting into Turn 8.

“We almost wrecked right there, even the 31 [was] really close.

“I think those yellows always help for tire degradation so that was nice. Altogether, on my side it was not exciting but it was pretty exciting.”

Bourdais revealed that data from Friday’s practice sessions helped convince them that a race-long run was possible with the Soft compound, following Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy’s triumph last year but on Michelin’s more robust Medium tire.

“We really dreaded a lot of tire deg because it’s the softest of all the tires there is in Michelin’s [lineup],” said the Frenchman.

“It’s kind of weird but the degradation was actually very little and the wear was almost nothing.

“When we saw that and going to the fact that the sun came through the clouds around noon-ish, the track temp was quite good compared to what we were expecting and it was one of those where…

“Being second we had to try something to jump those guys. Overcutting them was obviously the goal and doing no tires was the best way to maximize the speed on the out lap.

“They only took two tires but it was a two-second difference. It was definitely the right way to go and Renger made it stick.

“We were not entirely sure it was going to work but that was the only way we were going to try and win this race.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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