After a tough weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway, Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi team relinquished their Championship lead for the first time in the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar season. Going into the finale at Sebring International Raceway in two short weeks, the team remains very much in the hunt with only two points separating them from the leaders, the No. 7 Team Penske Acura AXR-05 of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves.
After qualifying seventh on Sunday morning, Ryan Briscoe took the green flag and with decisive moves in the opening stages of the two-hour, 40-minute race, moved up to fifth with half an hour complete. Deploying a similar strategy to the Petit Le Mans two weeks ago, the Cadillac-powered team stretched its first stint to open up strategic possibilities, moving them into the lead of the race.
At the 40-minute mark, Briscoe brought the Konica Minolta machine to pit lane for the team’s first pit stop and one and only driver change of the day. With the pit cycles out of the way, Renger van der Zande rejoined the track in sixth place, working to maximize the alternate strategy. Gaining time throughout his first stint in the car, van der Zande made a decisive move to take fifth place with one-hour, 35 minutes remaining.
With van der Zande remaining in the car for last two stints of the race, the Dutchman was able to cycle up to the third position during the final round of pit stops, rejoining in sixth with 41 minutes remaining for the sprint to the end and turning the fastest lap of the race. A full course caution for debris added some drama into the mix with 24 minutes left on the clock. Ever the opportunist, van der Zande was able to make his way briefly into the fifth position at the re-start, before having to settle for the sixth position come the checkered flag.
“We struggled all weekend which is not normal,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “We seemed to have had some brake issue during the race. After the yellow we thought we were going to have a good chance to get some good points. We were able to get up to fourth, but we had the same electrical issue that we had at Petit Le Mans. We had rewired the car on Friday, so there must be something going on. It might be engine related, so everyone will do their job before we go to the Sebring 12 Hour. The championship is not over, we’re only two points behind. Clearly, we didn’t have the pace this weekend. It’ll now be a shootout at Sebring.”
The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be decided in just two weeks, on November 14th, during the endurance classic, the 12 Hours of Sebring, where Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe will be joined by newly crowned NTT IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon, who helped the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi team to victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Petit Le Mans earlier this season.
Renger van der Zande
“Today we had some great pace in the car, then we had no pace in one of the stints and we don’t know why. I think Ryan did a good job in the beginning and we were moving forward. The pit stops were good, I just had no grip in the middle stint, and we lost a lot of time there. Then on the restart I made a move to get up to fifth position. At least we were in the fight to move forward, but it’s the worst-case scenario for the championship. The Acuras have been on a streak for so long now. After the gremlins we had in the last stint we cruised home and now we have to figure out how to fix it. We only have one shot at Sebring to clinch this championship.”
“Tough race, but at the same time I’m happy to have finished. We had some electrical issues again this race that have been haunting us the last couple of rounds. It was pretty scary because the car shut off a couple times and had to reset the dash with Renger in the car. He did a good job on the last restart and moved us up to fifth and the car started having problems. Thankfully we were able to build up a lap over the other Cadillacs and we were able to bring it home in sixth.”