vd Zande making most of Hitech opportunity
17 July 2009
The British F3 championship is long used to foreign raiders but, normally, they are looking to make their name, build their profile and climb the ladder to a bigger series.
So you could be excused for thinking that the winner at the last round, Renger van der Zande, is over qualified after securing victories in Euro F3, testing for both GP2 and DTM and competing in A1GP.
Having graduated through the ranks of German F3 to the F3 Euroseries, van der Zande is more comfortable racing in Europe. Despite thinking he had a DTM ride for 2009, just before the start of the season things changed and all decent options for higher categories were gone. So, when the opportunity came up to join the second round of the British series with Hitech Racing, he jumped at the chance and made an impact straight away by winning on his debut.
“It was great to get that first victory, the Dutchman admits, "It was looking like GP2 until December and then, shortly after, I was told I had a DTM seat with Mercedes. Then, in April, that too disappeared as they chose not to run as many cars as they had hoped. Suddenly, I had to start looking again and, although a sideways step, British F3 with Hitech was a great opportunity for me.”
In his first year of Euro F3, two podiums and a victory gave Italian outfit Prema a long overdue taste of success and van der Zande stayed with them for last season. That opened the door to other series but, despite testing successfully over the winter, the chance of a drive in either GP2 or the DTM vanished as the global financial crisis worsened. van der Zande, however, refused to be beaten.
“I didn't have a drive this season, but I was determined to race," the 23-year old insists, "Another year of F3 was not my plan but, at the end, it turned out to be a very good option. I can win races and show my speed by doing that. And, at the moment, I am learning a lot, the Hitech Racing F3 team is working on a lot of development. It is a fantastic team to work with - and to win races together is giving us a good vibe!”
As British F3 heads to Donington this weekend van der Zande again heads into unknown territory. But, with only Daniel Ricciardo and team-mate Walter Grubmuller in front of him overall, he is hopeful of closing the deficit to the top.
“I obviously came into the championship late, but I am determined to close the gap," van der Zande promises, "Donington is another track that I have never even visited, let alone raced round, but it doesn't bother me. I had never been to Silverstone and I won there. I have been watching on-board laps, so I go into this weekend confident that I can keep up my good pace and improve my position in the championship.”