Renger van der Zande believes there’s still “a lot more potential” in the Acura NSX GT3 Evo following a challenging debut for Honda Team Motul in Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli competition.
The JAS Motorsport-run squad recorded a 13th place finish in Saturday’s California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca after rebounding from several setbacks, including an air-jack issue on the car’s first stop and a drive-through penalty for a pit stop safety infraction.
The Dutchman, who teamed with Bertrand Baguette and Mario Farnbacher, who put the Acura-badged car on pole on Friday, then saw their chances of a top-ten finish disappear when Farnbacher had right-front suspension failure with less than 2 hours and 30 minutes to go.
“We had quite a few issues,” van der Zande told Sportscar365.
“But if you consider they put the car in a container to America, with hired American equipment, with a crew of people from Italy and elsewhere.
“It was a big mix of elements that had to work together. I think considering that, we did OK.
“There’s a lot more potential, that’s for sure.”
Van der Zande, who made his second start with the car and first with the new-for-2019 Evo package following a one-off outing in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau in 2017, said he didn’t feel the Balance of Performance suited the mid-engined car in the race.
Saturday’s round ran caution-free, with the race-winning HubAuto Ferrari 488 GT3 achieving a new event distance record.
“We saw obviously in qualifying that we were fast,” van der Zande said. “But looking back, I don’t think everybody showed their full potential.
“It looked better than it was and we knew it because we weren’t strong at all on the long runs.
“Some of the tracks fit better than others and I think BoP-wise, if we had another three or four tenths, we would have had a much better show.”
Mariani: “A Lot to be Positive” for Remainder of IGTC Season
JAS Motorsport team principal Alessandro Mariani says they’re upbeat for the remainder of the IGTC season, knowing the potential of the package was proven in Laguna Seca.
The Italian operation featured support from California-based Honda Performance Development this weekend, which will continue in the allocation of an engine engineer for the three remaining rounds.
“I have to thank both HPD for sharing their experience of racing at Laguna Seca and our three drivers for coming in, showing no trace of ego and just working through our processes,” Mariani said.
“Pole was a fantastic reward for everyone; it’s just a shame we had the issues in the race.
“Even after we had lost many laps in the pits after the suspension issue, Renger was still able to show very good speed in the final stints, so this gives us a lot to be positive about for Spa; a circuit about which we have far more data and knowledge.”
The factory Honda entry will be joined by at least one additional NSX GT3 Evo for Spa in Jenson Team Rocket RJN, which is committed for the full Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup campaign.
Additional Japanese-based entries, meanwhile, are expected for the manufacturer’s home race in Suzuka in August.