Renger van der Zande said that he gave it all he could in his final stint, with a puncture ultimately derailing a chance to become a three-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner.
The Dutchman settled for fifth in Sunday’s dramatic IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener after a hard-fought battle with the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 of Filipe Albuquerque that ended when van der Zande’s right-rear tire went down with eight minutes remaining while running second.
Albuquerque had come under attack by van der Zande in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R following the final round of pit stops, which saw a nearly seven-second gap close to less than one second in the matter of minutes.
“Strategy-wise [CGR] made some moves that we were able to do what we did, fight for the win,” van der Zande told Sportscar365.
“Working through traffic in the last two hours I took all the risks of the world which I didn’t do for 22 hours. We got into traffic and all that.
“We had some issues with the car, really.
“We had too much understeer and something was not completely right but we turned up the balance with a bit of tire pressure adjustment.
“Those last two stints, the car kinda came back to life and I started to do qualifying lap after qualifying lap to close the gap.
“Mainly in traffic, I was able to make big, big moves forward.
“The Acura was just way too fast in the straights but we were a bit better in the corners. For sure I would have made a move if the possibility was there.
“I had one chance that didn’t work out. I was waiting for my second chance with a few minutes to go but this is the way it is.”
Despite hunting down his former team, where he was let go from after nearly winning the 2020 DPi title with Ryan Briscoe, van der Zande insisted he treated the race the same as any other car.
“I want to beat every car that is in front of me, including the 10 car now,” he said. “I just feel very much at home at the place I’m at now. I think that’s the most important part.
“I’m not a guy that is thinking about revenge or anything like that; not at all.
“I was just giving it everything to beat the car that was in front of me and it happened to be the 10 car.
“I know how they work and how they look at the race so for sure I could play into that a little bit. That was my knowledge I had over them.
“It’s not good to say that I would have overtaken him because they won the race, they did a good job. Congrats to them.
“But for sure if I had another chance at it, I would have given my very best to overtake him.”
Albuquerque: “He Was Faster Than Me”
Race winner Albuquerque admitted that van der Zande was faster than him in the closing stages of the race and was “always looking in the mirrors” amid the hard-fought battle.
“We could see that we were not the fastest,” Albuquerque said.
“We went to the lead, we defended, we were pushing as hard as we could to keep it up with one eye on the road and one eye on the mirrors…
“In the end Renger came back to me and I was thinking, ‘He needs to have a drop off on the tires.’
“I was always thinking on that because my style of driving; yes it’s pushing; but always thinking that we need to finish.
“I could see how he was going through the Bus Stop. I think everyone saw it, but that’s Renger. An amazing driver. Very fast and he didn’t want to leave this one behind.
“So congratulations to them and to everyone because it was an amazing race.”