Renger van der Zande joins Inter Europol for WEC races

Zande joins Inter Europol
Brian Cleary/Getty Images

Renger van der Zande joins Inter Europol to add most of the World Endurance Championship races to his 2021 race program.

Van der Zande will race for Chip Ganassi in the Rolex 24 with Kevin Magnussen. Now Van Der Zande will also run WEC races with Inter Europol Competition in the LMP2 class with Jakub Śmiechowski and Alex Brundle.

This marks the eighth season for van der Zande in the IMSA WeatherTech series. He has won at least one race each season, including the last two 24 Hours of Daytona in Wayne Taylor’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac.

His 2020 Rolex 24 win set the stage for his endurance effort as he went on to earn the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

“It’s a great situation to focus on both of the two highest platforms of prototype racing in IMSA and WEC,” van der Zande said in a release. “The prototypes are the cars I have the most experience in now and I just love driving those fast, high downforce racecars. It’s a privilege to be adding this FIA WEC program with Inter Europol Competition to my Chip Ganassi Racing with Cadillac program in IMSA next season.”

The WEC season kicks off with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 19, but van der Zande will be in Ganassi’s car for that event. Helio Castroneves will take van der Zande’s seat at Sebring.

Van der Zande’s duties with Inter Europol will commence at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May before he and the team tackle another twice around the clock classic with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Unfortunately I have a clash for the first round of the series at Sebring so I cannot race there in WEC, but I will be watching and hope that Inter Europol has a great run, while I focus on the Ganassi IMSA 12-Hour race,” van der Zande said.

“Inter Europol are a good team; they have been working really hard and have made gains, improved and got better by the season. It’s an honor to be hired by them for the season and for Le Mans, this shows they’re motivated to do well in the series. There’s still work to do, as ever, improvements to be made, so we will be aiming to use the rounds ahead of Le Mans to get fully up to speed, to ensure that we’re very competitive when we get to the 24 Hour race! A good season ahead!”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.