photo: Wayne Taylor Racing

WEC: van der Zande joins DragonSpeed LMP1 program

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Renger van der Zande, already slated to run a full season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Wayne Taylor Racing, revealed on Sunday that he will also add a slate of FIA World Endurance Championship events between 2018 and 2019, joining DragonSpeed’s newly formed LMP1 program.

Van der Zande, who previously raced with DragonSpeed in the Prototype Challenge class of the American Le Mans Series in 2013, will partner Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley, and will make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with the team in June.

However, it should be noted that there is one conflicting weekend in 2018, as IMSA visits the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course the same weekend that the WEC opens its season at Spa (May 6). With van der Zande’s IMSA program with Wayne Taylor Racing taking priority, DragonSpeed will be in need of a replacement, which will be revealed at a late date.


NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.