On Friday morning, Wayne Taylor Racing announced that Renger van der Zande will join the team full-time in 2018, replacing Ricky Taylor as Jordan Taylor‘s teammate in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R. Van der Zande comes to Wayne Taylor Racing from Visit Florida Racing.
Van der Zande is quite excited about his new team.
“Needless to say, I’m very happy to join the Konica Minolta Cadillac team – it’s a mega opportunity,” van der Zande said in the team’s press release. “I have to say, for me, being with VisitFlorida 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.
In 2017, van der Zande and full-time teammate Marc Goossens struggled at times with the Riley Mk. 30 chassis. Despite a third-place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Riley was a difficult car to drive. Crashes at Long Beach (which forced a withdrawal from the weekend) and Detroit didn’t help things much. Ultimately, the team switched to a Ligier JS P217 mid-season. Following the change, the team’s fortunes improved immediately with the pair taking the overall win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September in the car’s second race. The pair ended up joint seventh in Prototype points.
For Jordan Taylor, he’s always been impressed with van der Zande’s pace and skill behind the wheel.
“When Renger first popped up on my radar, he was driving LMPC and I could tell going around him that he was always on the limit and pushing, and I could tell by the behavior of the car he was the real deal,” Jordan Taylor said. “When Renger came to Prototype this year, I knew he was going to be competitive. What we saw of him and that amazing pass for the win at Laguna, we knew he’s a driver who can get the job done. And when Ricky announced he was leaving, Renger was one of the first guys we wanted to talk to and, thankfully, he was available. Personality-wise, he gets along with everyone and he fits in perfectly. It’s going to be a great relationship.”
After Ricky Taylor decided to leave WTR in order to go to Acura Team Penske, van der Zande was at the top of team owner Wayne Taylor’s list for potential replacements.
“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,” 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,” Wayne Taylor continued. “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’s move to WTR leaves at least one open seat at Visit Florida Racing for the 2018 season. It remains to be seen which direction the Daytona Beach-based outfit will go.
For WTR, they currently do not have additional drivers for the endurance races signed for the 2018 season. Alex Lynn will likely focus on his Formula E ride in 2018. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon has already announced that he won’t be back at Daytona in January while Max Angelelli retired following the win this year.
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