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Van der Zande: “Impossible” to Beat Mazdas at Road America

Wayne Taylor Racing driver expecting dominant performance from Mazda DPis at Road America…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Renger van der Zande believes it will be “impossible” to win in a straight-up fight against Mazda this weekend at Road America, with the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs looking set to continue with its top-speed deficit despite recent Balance of Performance adjustments.

All three DPi models received BoP adjustments ahead of Sunday’s fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, including a slight 0.3 mm larger air restrictor for the Cadillac, which is estimated to give it roughly a 7 horsepower gain.

Van zer Zande, who spent Wednesday with Wayne Taylor Racing on Dallara’s simulator in Indianapolis preparing for the weekend, however, doesn’t feel it will make a difference, especially compared to the Mazda RT24-P’s pace at the four-mile circuit last year.

“I am very sure we’re going to have a very hard weekend in Road America against the Mazdas because I think last year, especially, they were so much faster than us and we’re basically going with the same BoP into this race,” he said.

“If you have to write a letter with predictions I think it’s going to be impossible to win.

“That’s not because we’re not trying. I was in the Dallara simulator trying all kinds of setup things and items to try to make the best out of it. 

“We’re still fighting with the other Cadillacs to be the best Cadillac, which I think is the first goal. 

“But BoP-wise, it doesn’t look great.”

The Dutchman, who along with co-driver Ryan Briscoe are tied for the DPi points lead with Mazda’s Tristan Nunez and Oliver Jarvis, said their only chance for victory will likely come if it rains.

Sunday’s forecast currently calls for a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms although forecasts have fluctuated in recent days.

“The Cadillac is always very good in the rain,” van der Zande said. “It’s conditions that I really love. With Sebring as well, on the slicks in FP1, I was very happy making some lap time.

“Also with the rain tires, I think it’s an easy car to drive and a fun car to go fast with.

“I hope it’s going to rain and that would change things around a little.

“Strategy-wise, it’s always an interesting one. It’s such a long track that [relies] on strategy a lot. How many safety cars you’ll see is also dependent on that.

“There’s a lot of strategy calls to it. When it rains we’ll have a chance but if it’s dry I think not really.”

WTR Still Coming to Grips with Michelin Tire

Van der Zande said one of their biggest off-season gains has come with better understanding Michelin’s tires, which were introduced into the top class last year and saw the WTR team admittedly struggle when compared to fellow Cadillac teams.

“I think I think the switch from Continental to Michelin took a little [time] for us to understand what that really meant,” said van der Zande.

“I think on that side we made a big step forward, especially in Daytona we felt we we did our homework well over the winter to understand that well.

“We’re very well prepared but we were very well prepared last year as well, so to be honest I think that’s the main reason.

“You know how important these tires are. They’re the only contact point that we have with the tarmac, so if they don’t work properly or we don’t get them properly to work then you’re basically in nowhere land.

“And it could be the other way around where it can switch you on if you start to understand and do well with it.”

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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