Renger van der Zande will not return to Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, with the Dutchman confirming his exit from the team at the end of the year.
The news comes just days after van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon’s victory at Motul Petit Le Mans, which has given van der Zande and Briscoe an eight-point lead in the DPi drivers’ championship heading into the final two rounds of the season.
Having joined WTR in 2018, van der Zande has been a key part of the team’s recent success, including back-to-back wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, two Petit Le Mans victories and a pair of runner-up finishes at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Van der Zande is understood to have been on a single-year contract after initial uncertainty over his future following the conclusion of the 2019 season.
He told Sportscar365 that he was informed of his departure from the team’s lineup on Wednesday.
“It’s a hard situation,” said van der Zande. “After Road America [in August] they told me I was the one who was going to drive for them next year.
“That makes a lot of sense because I’m here at Spa this weekend with Honda, and they will be working with Acura.
“If you look at my results over the last couple of years, winning Daytona twice and Petit Le Mans twice, and being the fastest at Daytona. I think, rationally, it’s really weird.
“Looking at the stats, there’s a really good relationship between me and the engineering group. So there was no reason that it was going to stop.”
Van der Zande added that the sudden notification of his departure leaves him with few options on the table for next year, although he’s keen to find a way of staying in the WeatherTech Championship.
“The most horrible part about it is that I haven’t been chasing any other teams,” he said.
“In the last 24 hours, I have called a few up. But I wish I would have known earlier because we are pretty far in getting our 2021 season settled.
“That makes it really harsh. It really leaves me behind. I would have loved to have made that jump with Acura together, starting with a new car.
“We’re leading the championship with two races to go and the best thing I can do is win that championship and make sure that I finish on a high with them, together. That’s all I can do. Right now it’s a bit of a shock.
“I’m talking to a few teams and I think most of the full-time seats are gone. As a third driver, I think the long-distance races could be a very good option for now.
“It leaves me with not many options, but let’s see what comes up.”
Briscoe Unlikely to Return in Expected All-New Lineup
While yet to be confirmed, Briscoe is unlikely to return to the full-season lineup for the team’s switch from Cadillac to Acura DPi machinery as well, leaving WTR with two new full-time drivers.
Sportscar365 understands that Ricky Taylor, who is contracted to Honda Performance Development, has been linked to a return to his family’s team, although an announcement will not come until the conclusion of the 2020 season due to his current arrangement with Acura Team Penske.
It’s believed WTR had been evaluating multiple drivers with current or previous DPi experience in recent weeks, meaning that Briscoe is likely out of a seat as well.
The Australian is managed by Max Angelelli, who sold his interest in the team to Wayne Taylor in August following a decision to return to Italy and focus on his family life.
Briscoe has yet to return multiple inquiries by Sportscar365.
Newly-confirmed double FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series LMP2 champion Filipe Albuquerque, who currently serves as a third driver for Action Express Racing, has been the leading driver rumored to fill the full-season seat alongside Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta-sponsored Acura ARX-05.
When reached by Sportscar365, Wayne Taylor said he can’t confirm anything at the moment as the team is “focused on this championship” and “nothing is changing now.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report