With Konica Minolta sponsoring Thursday’s IMSA iRacing Pro Series finale at Watkins Glen International, a quick look at the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. driver lineup yields an ironic twist.
While 50 race cars will be virtually singing around the circuit Thursday evening, it was four years ago that Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande were celebrating a real-life win at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen – in different IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes.
"We were leading by a lot in the wet," recalls van der Zande, whose win came in the Prototype Challenge class with Alex Popow. "It was super slippery, and the race got red flagged a couple of times. There were a few spots on track that were very tricky to drive, so that made it very cool to win with so much risk involved. I remember that being such a sensational race because the strategies were so important with so many red flags and trying to keep the car on track."
If that doesn’t sound wild enough, Briscoe was balancing the race weekend with the birth of his youngest daughter. Commuting nearly five hours from the track to the hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, Briscoe made it in time for the birth. He returned to Watkins Glen on Saturday just in time to see his teammate, Richard Westbrook, put the car on pole in the GT Le Mans class.
"Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks and we were flying in the race," said Briscoe. "Not everything went completely smoothly over six hours, but in the end our speed reigned supreme and we were able to beat our teammates to the checkered and a close 1-2 finish for the team. After the trophy ceremonies and press conferences, I rushed back to Hartford with some very memorable hardware my daughter will hear all about when she’s older."
Fast-forwarding to the 2020 WeatherTech Championship, van der Zande and Briscoe are now co-drivers in the lead Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. They kicked off their new partnership in the best possible way, celebrating in victory lane at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 10 Cadillac.
"I’ve known Ryan from the junior series where he was always a few years ahead of me," explained van der Zande. "He’s always been sensationally fast and good, so I’m very happy he’s joined the team. He has so much experience from all kinds of cars, so he’s brought a lot of information."
But Briscoe admits he has a learning curve of his own as he transitions from the Ford GT race car.
"I was really happy to know Renger would be my teammate," said Briscoe. "He’s very fast and has had a lot of success and experience in this car, which was important. I look forward to leaning on him at some of the circuits on our calendar."
Luckily for the duo, next on the calendar is a return to Daytona International Speedway for a two-hour, 40-minute race on July 4 (they’re not competing in Thursday’s iRacing event – but will be back at Watkins Glen for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in October). However, both drivers acknowledge the differences they will experience from January’s 24-hour event compared to a shorter, summer event in the heat.
"Obviously, I’m looking forward to heading back to Daytona," said Briscoe. "It will be a very different race from the 24, being a summer race and a sprint, but we will obviously be pushing hard for another win. I can’t wait!"
"I think we’re going to put on a great show, as the strategy is going to be a bit different going into this race," added van der Zande. "For 24 hours of racing, you have a different philosophy compared to a sprint race. You have a knife between the teeth and it’s going to be important to have the top speed in the car, good restarts and position yourself well for the end of the race. I’m looking forward and we’re only going there for the win!"
As for Thursday’s iRacing championship battle between Bruno Spengler and Nicky Catsburg? Dutchmen stick together.
"I think Catsburg is going to win," said van der Zande. "I know him very well, he’s from Holland like I am. He’s always on the simulator and he’s incredibly fast on those things. Spengler is also very good, but I’ll pick Catsburg."
Konica Minolta Presents IMSA iRacing at Watkins Glen will stream live beginning at 6 p.m. ET on the iRacing Facebook and YouTube channels and the voice of IMSA Radio, John Hindhaugh, will once again lead the race commentary. The Torque Show will stream a pre-race showing at 5 p.m. on its Facebook page.