Renger van der Zande is one lucky man.
The third round of the 2023 World Endurance Championship took place this weekend at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, and it's likely one that Cadillac Racing will want to forget.
Cadillac Racing had two cars entered in the Hypercar class, and the #3 car was piloted by Sebastien Bourdais, Jack Aitken, and Renger van der Zande. Van der Zande was behind the wheel when an accident occurred on the corner often mislabelled as Eau Rouge. What we know as Eau Rouge is actually two corners. The first is Eau Rouge, the left-hander down to the bottom. The kink to the right is known as Raidillon. It takes a big set to complete these corners flat, as proven by Kimi Raikkonen.
Either way, staying on the right line is crucial because this infamous stretch of tarmac has a reputation for damaging drivers. In 2019, Eau Rouge and Raidillon killed F2 driver Anthoine Hubert. This year, it thankfully killed no more than a car and an ego.
At first, it looked like Van der Zande put the car on the wrong line. As you can see, the racing line was drying, but the car seemed to bottom out, which is actually common in racing. It then barrels straight on before slamming sideways into the barrier below the grandstand.
The impact was severe enough to remove most of the right-hand-side bodywork, exposing the driver through an open door.
Thankfully, Eau Rouge and Raidillon only claimed the car, and Van der Zande climbed out of the vehicle under his own steam, showing that he was okay.
Following the race, the WEC Championship's official Instagram page reported that power steering failure was apparently to blame. Cadillac still managed to claim fifth in the #2 car. Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed first and second in its hypercar, followed by Ferrari and Porsche.
Van der Zande has more than a month to recover and get back in the groove before the big one of the year. The 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on 10 June, and several manufacturers will be returning for the first time.
Cadillac will enter three cars at Le Mans, all powered by the LMC55R dual overhead cam naturally aspirated V8 and a standard hybrid component. Caddy is likely using the opportunity to show what it can do in the LMDh (Hypercar) category to promote EVs like the Lyriq.
At least we know Caddy knows how to build a safe car.
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