Racing Team Nederland announced Thursday (Dec. 2) that they will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s LMP2 class in the four Michelin Endurance Cup races in 2022. Team owner Frits van Eerd will be joined by Giedo van der Garde and Dylan Murry in the four endurance events. In addition, INDYCAR driver Rinus VeeKay will join the team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team will be sponsored by Jumbo, a privately-owned chain of supermarkets in The Netherlands where van Eerd serves as the CEO.
“As we won the [FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 Pro-Am] world title in 2021, the timing of this new challenge is perfect,” van Eerd said in a press release, translated from Dutch via Google Translate. “I have never made it a secret that after our participation in the [European Le Mans Series in 2017] and the [FIA World Endurance Championship since 2018 that] I wanted to race with Racing Team Nederland in America as well. I studied in America and already attended IMSA races during that time. So that we are now going to do the four biggest IMSA races is really a dream come true for me. At the beginning of 2021, we did the 24 Hours of Daytona as a test. That was a fantastic experience and I am very happy that it will now be continued.”
Racing Team Nederland comes to IMSA after spending the past three seasons (since 2018) in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Prior to that, the team competed in the European Le Mans Series. Competition in both series was in the LMP2 class, first with a Dallara P217-Gibson, then their current ORECA 07-Gibson.
As van Eerd noted, earlier this year, Racing Team Nederland made a one-off appearance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with van Eerd, van der Garde, Job van Uitert (pictured above) and Charles Milesi driving. Unfortunately, the team’s race ended very early. Van Eerd crashed the car at the end of the second hour, which brought out a full course caution. While they were able to continue after that incident, the car was pushed behind the wall during the next caution and into retirement.
This year in the WEC, only van Eerd was able to compete in all six races. Van der Garde and van Uitert were van Eerd’s full-time teammates, but van der Garde tested positive for COVID-19 in June. This forced him out for the 6 Hours of Monza. Van Uitert ended up being a close contact, ruling him out as well. Paul-Loup Chatin and 2021 ABB Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries were called in to sub.
Update: Giedo is positief getest op covid. Zij vervanger komend weekend is Paul-Loup Chatin, afgelopen zondag winnaar van de ELMS-race.
— Racing Team Nederland (@RacingTeamNL) July 15, 2021
Overall, van Eerd ended up eighth in LMP2 points with a best finish of third at Monza with his substitute teammates. His best finish with van der Garde and van Uitert was fourth at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in May. In the Pro-Am championship, van Eerd claimed victory in four of the six races, giving him the Pro-Am title by 21 points.
For VeeKay, Daytona will be his first start with Racing Team Nederland. It unites him more closely with Jumbo, which serves as a personal sponsor.
“I think it’s great that I get the chance to do the 24 Hours of Daytona with Racing Team Nederland,” VeeKay said in a press release. “It has always been my dream to race together with Frits [van Eerd], my loyal sponsor. That that dream is now coming true is great!”
For VeeKay, Daytona will not be his first IMSA start. Last year, VeeKay was part of the driving team for DragonSpeed’s No. 81 LMP2 entry. Unfortunately, the car retired after 53 laps due to a misfire in the Gibson engine. VeeKay was unable to get into the car before it was retired. VeeKay also has a personal sponsorship with Jumbo.
“[Being] part of Racing Team Netherlands is a great opportunity,” Murry stated. “I can’t wait for my first race in the Jumbo car later in Daytona and hope we can win races this year and fight for the [Michelin Endurance Cup] title.”
Murry comes to Racing Team Nederland after running full-time in the LMP3 class for Riley Motorsports alongside Jim Cox, with Jeroen Bleekemolen joining for the endurance races and Austin McCusker for Daytona. In seven races this year, Murry had no class victories, but had five podium finishes en route to third in LMP3 points. His best finishes were a pair of second-place finishes at Sebring and Watkins Glen (July). He will be making his LMP2 debut in January.
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