Photo: Wayne Taylor Racing

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

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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.”

It’s official: Laguna Seca to host INDYCAR for at least next 3 seasons

Laguna Seca, from the 1991 CART race there. Photo: Getty Images
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INDYCAR made it official today: the 2019 season-ending race will move a couple of hours down the Northern California coast to WeatherTechRaceway Laguna Seca.

Sonoma Raceway, which has hosted INDYCAR since 2005 – including the last five season-ending races (that includes this year’s upcoming season finale) – will not be part of next season’s schedule.

Earlier today, the Monterey County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, which oversees operation of the iconic racing facility, approved a three-year agreement with INDYCAR to host next year’s season finale on Sept. 20-22, 2019.

The remaining two race dates for 2020 and 2021 will be announced later, according to an INDYCAR media release.

The 2.238-mile permanent road course previously hosted CART and Champ Car World Series Indy car races from 1983 through 2004, including the season-ending races from 1989 through 1996.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement. “Monterey is a place people want to be, and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

Bobby Rahal, former CART/CCWS driver and current INDYCAR team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won four of the prior 22 previous Indy car races at Laguna Seca, all consecutively (1984-87).

“It’s great news, but I might be biased,” Rahal said. “I personally won four Indy car races there and won my first Can-Am race there. Our Indy car team won with Bryan Herta and Max Papis and our sports car team won IMSA races there.

“So I would almost bet you that Laguna Seca is the site of more victories for me as a driver and team owner combined of any track I’ve ever raced on.

“There is nothing better than the Monterey Bay area, and it’s a great circuit that always drew great crowds. So I’m thrilled to have Indy car racing coming back to a circuit I love so much. We will put on a good show, for sure.”

In addition to Rahal as a multiple winner, two-time winners at Laguna Seca were fellow current INDYCAR team co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, INDYCAR on NBCSN analyst Paul Tracy, Danny Sullivan and Patrick Carpentier.

“The return of INDYCAR to its spiritual road racing home of Laguna Seca is a tremendous honor and testament to the appeal of Monterey, and through the support of the County of Monterey will provide a significant economic benefit to our area businesses,” said Timothy McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, “We are looking forward to creating more memories in race fans’ minds like Bobby Rahal’s four consecutive Indy car wins from 1984-1987, Mario Andretti’s farewell race in 1994 and Alex Zanardi’s last-lap overtaking of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in 1996 that simply became known as ‘The Pass.'”

NBC Sports Group has secured exclusive domestic television and digital media rights for INDYCAR races beginning in 2019. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, agreed that Laguna Seca is an ideal venue to close out the schedule.

“We commend INDYCAR for returning to Laguna Seca, a historic track and an inspired place for the 2019 season finale,” Miller said. “The 2019 season will be our first as the exclusive media rights partner of INDYCAR, and we could not be more pleased to broadcast the championship from beautiful Monterrey.”

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