Fast Dutchman Renger Van der Zande is usually found behind the wheel of a Cadillac DPi on the other side of the Atlantic. However, this season he has jumped into the cockpit of the Inter Europol’s Oreca 07 to contest the LMP2 class in the FIA World Endurance Championship. We caught up with him in the Spa paddock.
RENGER VAN DER ZANDE: “IN ENDURANCE YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO PEAK”
Renger, you just recently joined the Inter Europol effort in the WEC. How are your first experiences with the team?
Yes, Inter Europol is a completely new team for me. On top of that most team members are also new to the car as well. The team swapped the Ligier for the incredibly successful Oreca 07 chassis. It will take some time for everyone to get used to each other. For 2021, the FIA also implemented a new set of regulations for LMP2, so we also have to get used to those, too. I don’t think we’re ready to win just yet but it’s only the first race of the season. I definitely feel there is a lot of potential here.
You’ve been racing since 2004. How much does your experience add to the potential of the team?
I think driver experience is instrumental in any kind of racing team. First of all, my teammate, Alex Brundle, has a lot of experience in this championship, whereas most of my experience comes from racing in the United States and other championships. Where Alex really knows the ins and outs of this championship, I can bring my knowledge from other teams and championships that have a completely different working method. I think this combination is very beneficial.
In the US you’re currently racing a Cadillac DPi along with Kevin Magnussen. How different is that DPi to an LMP2?
On the face of it, both cars are quite similar to each other. The biggest difference is the regulations. In WEC LMP2 is really a spec class with a very strict but limiting set of regulations. The DPi regulations are much more open in terms of what you can do with the car’s engine and suspension. On the other hand, a spec class also has its merits.
How do you prepare for a race?
The key to endurance racing is to peak at the right moment. It’s no use being on top of your game in the morning if you’re going to be tired when the race starts. In Spa, I’m not starting the race. So, you have to go from hanging around in the paddock to strapping yourself in the car, leave the pitlane, and immediately going flat-out into Eau Rouge and up Raidillon. A good warm-up session is not a luxury!
You’ve got a lot of experience racing all over the world. Are there any favourite tracks for you? Do you still have targets to reach?
I love racing in the US. The tracks over there are really old school. I love Sebring and Watkins Glenn. Mosport in Canada is also a strong favourite. It’s so tight, and a very dangerous but thrilling track. As far as targets and goals go, I just want to keep winning races. I’m fortunate enough to have won so many great races. However, there are still a few on my to-do list. I’d still love to win Sebring and score an overall victory in Le Mans. I just love prototype racing and endurance so if I can keep combining them both I’m happy.