Renger van der Zande will make the move to Wayne Taylor Racing next year, replacing Ricky Taylor in its full-season lineup in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the team announced on Friday.
The 31-year-old Dutchman will team with Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R, in pursuit of the team’s Prototype title defense.
According to team owner Wayne Taylor, van der Zande was “at the top” of its list of replacements for Ricky Taylor, who will join Team Penske’s Acura DPi effort for next year.
“After doing our due diligence to make sure he was free and clear of any other obligations, and based on that, we decided to move forward to further the negotiations,” Wayne Taylor said.
“We are absolutely thrilled that it worked out that he can join us.
“Because Ricky and Jordan were fighting for the championship until the last race, we couldn’t really announce anything about Ricky until the season was over, which had us a little concerned that it would be difficult to find a good driver.
“Based on everything we’ve seen, Renger is going to fit in well here.
“Speed-wise, he’s going to be good. I think he will be good on equipment. He has a great personality and fits in with the team and our sponsors really, really well.”
Van der Zande, the 2016 Prototype Challenge champion, had a single-year stint with Visit Florida Racing, where he delivered the first LMP2 victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month following an epic late-race pass in the Corkscrew.
“I have to say, for me, being with Visit Florida Racing was a good step up from LMPC, and now joining a Prototype championship-winning team is very special,” he said. “The atmosphere on the team is great.
“We are preparing to go full speed ahead for 2018 season, focusing on getting the drivers and the mechanics and everybody else working as a team. It feels like I’m jumping into a warm bath.
“In the last four years, my career went up from a guy trying to make a name in the sport to someone asked to race in the cars of championship-caliber teams. I feel very privileged to be in that position.
“Now, being contacted by Wayne and getting asked to drive for this championship-winning team, that’s the crown for driving all sorts of cars all over the world for so many years.”
Jordan Taylor added: “When Renger came to Prototype this year, I knew he was going to be competitive. What we saw of him and that amazing pass for the win at Laguna, we knew he’s a driver who can get the job done.
“And when Ricky announced he was leaving, Renger was one of the first guys we wanted to talk to and, thankfully, he was available.”
Hunter-Reay Likely for TPNAEC Campaign
Ryan Hunter-Reay, meanwhile is believed to be the likely candidate to join van der Zande and Jordan Taylor for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
The IndyCar ace, who finished second with the team in the 2013 Rolex 24, rejoined WTR for last month’s Motul Petit Le Mans and has a strong history with the Indianapolis-based organization.
It’s understood that Jeff Gordon, who teamed with the Taylor brothers and Max Angelelli for victory at Daytona in January, is unlikely to defend his crown next year.