Photo: Wayne Taylor Racing

IMSA: Van der Zande on the move to No. 10 Cadillac

Leave a comment

Renger van der Zande’s continued rise in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rolls on with confirmation Friday morning he’ll take over as Jordan Taylor’s co-driver in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for 2018.

The rapid Dutchman made his name in IMSA competition in the now-defunct Prototype Challenge class from 2013 to 2016, winning that class title that last year, then starred despite a car disadvantage first with the Riley Multimatic Mk. 30 Gibson, then the Ligier JS P217 Gibson at VISIT FLORIDA Racing this year in his first year in Prototype.

Van der Zande’s pass of Dane Cameron at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca stood out as perhaps the defining pass of the IMSA season and helped position him for this opportunity. With VISIT FLORIDA’s support rumored to be waning and a vacancy at Wayne Taylor Racing’s team left by Ricky Taylor, like Cameron, going to Acura Team Penske, van der Zande now switches to the championship-winning seat in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) format.

“Renger was at the top of our list when it came to finding a replacement for Ricky and, after doing our due diligence to make sure he was free and clear of any other obligations, we decided to move forward to further the negotiations,” team owner 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. Konica Minolta and Cadillac and GM are all on board and are very excited. We are really looking forward to this.”

Van der Zande added, “Needless to say, I’m very happy to join the Konica Minolta Cadillac team – it’s a mega opportunity. 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. 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.

“Yes, there will be pressure on the track, and even more by replacing a family member. But pressure is always there – it doesn’t matter. I’m the type of driver who’s willing to take the risks. Of course, you have to be smart and do it in a clever way, but I’m racing the way I’m racing and I think it’ll fit very nicely.”

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter