Rolex 24-hour race winner Renger van der Zande has arrived at Le Mans ahead of this weekend’s blue-riband event at Circuit de la Sarthe. The Dutch driver competes with Wayne Taylor Racing in the US-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and leads the championship following the most recent round at Road Atlanta.
This week, it is a change of programme for Renger as he joins fellow gold-rated driver Ben Hanley and amateur racer Henrik Hedman at the wheel of the #27 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibson, for what will be his third 24 Hours of Le Mans.
DragonSpeed competes in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The 88th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the team’s fourth straight year of competition at the event.
Practice begins and Thursday ahead of qualifying and then further testing. The 24-Hour race gets underway on Saturday at 14.30 CEST.
Renger, you are enjoying a good season in the US and have a four-point lead in the championship, summarise the season so far please?
“We’re really enjoying the season as the team are really on it and we’re all performing well as a group. Like any season, there have been a few problems, but overall, it is going really well, and we are all really pushing hard to ensure our lead converts into the championship win. We’ve never been in a stronger position, so we must capitalise on this opportunity to win the title.”
You have driven the Oreca 07 Gibson before, but what chances have you has in the build-up to this event to get in any testing?
“We had hoped to compete in the WEC round at Spa-Francorchamps, but with COVID-19 travel restrictions, that wasn’t possible. I know the car itself well from an ELMS round at Monza last year, while the team has vast experience in the IMSA series and WEC. We will be competing on Michelin tyres which is useful for us as it is similar in compound as we race in the US – a great deal of cross-over.
“I think it will only take me two or three laps at Le Mans to familiarise myself with the cockpit and because the team know the car so well, and with the superb engineering talent across the board, I know they will give myself Henrik and Ben a car that we can hit the ground running with.”
You have raced at Le Mans before, so you know the challenges of the race and how difficult it is to turn potential into solid race results.
“This will be my third start at Le Mans and it is certainly a tough race for both us drivers and the team as a whole. In 2018 one of my teammates went off late into the race, while last year we had a mechanical issue. I’m certainly hoping that it will be a case of third time lucky in 2020!”
You have both a Bronze and Gold racer alongside you this year. How does that affect the event in terms of car setup and planning?
“This is what racing in a Pro-Am class is really all about. Looking at the entry list there really are almost two divisions and we are firmly in the proper Pro-Am LMP2 class. Henrik is a very strong Bronze racer and has a great deal of experience, but a Bronze driver in the line-up will always make a difference.
“I currently race in an all Pro championship, but I do have plenty of experience working with Bronze drivers. The key is to make sure we get the car setup working for all three of us, find a good balance, one which allows us all to push hard in race conditions.”