The track of Spa-Francorchamps has a range of highs and lows. And the same can be said for the Lotus LMP2 Team with Renger van der Zande. Things went up and down for the swift Dutch driver, who was making his debut in this class. Although Renger was pushed off the track in the final leg, he and the team handed in a fine performance during the six-hour WEC race.
Francorchamps, 6 May 2012
The Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps for the World Championship for Le Mans Prototypes came off to a wet start. Occasionally, the rain turned into a downpour – something of a handicap for the Lotus LMP2 team, which had had limited track time, and on a dry track besides. Renger van der Zande handled the start for the team, lining up at the fifth position on the grid. He was more than able to hold his ground in this phase and play it safe. He was putting in some good times, and when he handed the wheel to his team mate Holzer after 90 minutes, Lotus was still on P5 and the fastest Lola behind two Oreca/Nissans and twee Morgan/Judds. The weather had since cleared up and Holzer also drove a fine stint. Around 6, Schultis took over, but unfortunately, he sustained some damage during a spin at the back of the circuit. Still, the team managed to get the car back on the road fairly quickly, although by now, Lotus had slipped back to eighth. At 7:30, Renger got back in the seat for the final offensive. He delivered a tight performance, chalking up better times with each new lap. But in Lap 124, 45 minutes before the end of the race, there was a mishap. After overtaking the car in front of him, Van der Zande’s car was clipped at the heels and ended in the barrier. This ended the race for Team #31. Right before the finish, Lotus ‘hit the wall’, as runners would put it. Nevertheless, the team felt they had put in a good performance with this race.
Renger: ‘Well, that rounds off an exciting weekend… with ups and downs. With only ten laps for training on Thursday and two qualifying laps on Friday, I got to start the day on a wet track. It went well though, and I was settling into a solid rhythm. The track was incredibly busy, with over 40 cars, including the faster LMP1 types and the slower GTs, so I needed to drive extremely clearly. The many overtaking manoeuvres you end up in eventually involve some tight steering. The team worked hard to get the job done and were able to quickly resolve a damage halfway-through. I consider it a big compliment that Lotus asked me to handle the final offensive. Which made it all the worse when it was me of all people who ended up in the Armco. It was going really well, but then I was tapped by the car behind me after I had passed it. That ended the race for me, robbed of an illusion and with a load of damage to the car besides. But nevertheless, we presented our calling card as Team Lotus LMP2.’