Renger van der Zande is hopeful to “make the most” of the revised IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar that sees the elimination of both street races that have traditionally suited the Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Van der Zande and new-for-2020 Wayne Taylor Racing co-driver Ryan Briscoe enter this weekend’s WeatherTech 240 at Daytona as the DPi championship leaders after taking victory in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, which along with Sebring, typically only host endurance races on the season.
Both two-hour and 40-minute contests present some unknowns to competitors, and the Dutchman is unsure exactly how they will stack up in a pure sprint race format.
“Daytona and Sebring both have long-distance races normally where the Cadillac is very strong,” said van der Zande. “We always have a bulletproof car, which means that at the end of the race, we’re still in contention to fight by saving fuel or being smart or whatsoever.
“The last few years we’ve never had the fastest car at Sebring but we always finished second. There was always someone that had the faster car and won the race.
“At the same time it’s almost like a street track with the bumps, where the Cadillac is very strong.”
Fellow Cadillac DPi driver Felipe Nasr, of Action Express Racing, admitted he will miss both Long Beach and Detroit this year, largely due to the car’s strengths.
The Dallara-chassied prototype has only been defeated once in the six street races to date in DPi history.
“I love Sebring; it’s one of my favorite tracks in the calendar,” said Nasr. “But on the other hand, I’m going to miss the street tracks.
“They were a highlight, not only for the championship, but for our car.
“It was a strong area that I think we could explore. It comes to my mind, Detroit and Long Beach have always been super strong, the way the Cadillac goes well on those bumps.”
Van der Zande, meanwhile, believes one of the biggest deciding factors are Balance of Performance changes over the course of the reconfigured season.
“It’s about making the most out of it and I’m sure with the new dynamic of tracks we have in the IMSA championship, the the organizers and the BoP will be very important again to make sure you can get the most out of it,” he said.
“I’m fully confident that that we have a good shot at it.”
With no BoP adjustments made to the Cadillac DPi since their win in January, and the Acura ARX-05 getting a slight power increase, van der Zande is hopeful to have a car capable to fight for the win again.
“We were a little scared that because in Daytona during the practices and qualifying we were not so quick,” he said.
“But we kept the same pace from practice all the way through the race and I think that’s what IMSA saw as well. So I’m very happy that we can keep the same car as we had and I hope the others are balanced up with us in the right way to have a great race.
“It’s a short race. There’s less time to recover and less time to get yourself in the front and stay there or make some smart decisions.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report