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Starworks Motorsports Wins PC Championship at Petit Le Mans

Saturday night, in the fifth hour of Petit Le Mans and under caution, Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow and Starworks Motorsports became the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champions. With four wins and eight podiums, the PC team earns its second championship in two years, despite a disappointing 6th place finish in the race.

Heading into the final race of the year, the No. 8 Oreca needed to finish sixth place or better in order to win the championship. With seven cars in the class, when the No. 7 Starworks Oreca of Stefano Coletti, James Dayson, and Quinlan Lall withdrew from the race after heavy damage, the retirement meant the No. 8 car only needed to get its minimum drive time in for van der Zande and Popow. Popow opened with a three hours and 10 minute stint, during which he reported the car was beginning to suffer braking issues. When David Heinemeier Hansson took over for his stint, the problem became worse, forcing the team to take the car behind the wall for repairs. The car returned with van der Zande at the wheel, where he was able to compete his first lap of the race under caution.

It was under the caution lap that van der Zande completed his minimum drive time, and the following caution lap, he celebrated his championship win over the radio with team owner Peter Baron and Alex Popow. Unfortunately, with less than three hours to go, the left front brake pad exploded, causing too much damage for the car to continue.

Before its early retirement, the No. 7 showed a strong performance in the early laps with Stefano Coletti climbing from his fifth place starting position to run in second.  Shortly after, the gremlins appeared in the brakes, forcing the team to take the car back to the garage on more than one occasion before ultimately retiring.

The No. 88 of Mark Kvamme, Richard Bradley and Max Hanratty enjoyed the longest run for the team’s three cars, finishing in a strong fourth place. The trio ran clean and consistent, keeping their distance from trouble in the field.

Peter Baron
It’s been an incredible season for the guys, and while the odds were definitely in our favor heading into this race, it was great to officially clinch the PC title. It was a little anti climatic to win it under a caution, but we’ll still celebrate just as hard. The guys on the No. 7 car had a tough run after looking strong all week, but they still stuck around to wish the rest of their teammates good luck. The No. 88 guys did an excellent job pushing through what can be a difficult event. We were hoping to get a little closer to that third place car, but a fourth place is an excellent end to the season for them.

Renger van Der Zande
The great news of the day is that we won the championship. After 11 races this season, I think we can be very proud at winning the championship. To have done it with Alex as my teammate and Peter as a boss, we had a lot of fun doing it. Racing in America, in my opinion, is the best in the world, with the best of multi-class racing and dog fights at every restart. It’s a true battle of survival. Of course today, winning the race would have been a nice one, and it’s a shame we didn’t.  Petit Le Mans is one of the best races of the calendar, and maybe the world. But that’s racing. We’re staying here until Tuesday, because we have the series banquet Monday. I can’t wait to celebrate with my Starworks friends.

Alex Popow
We won the championship! It’s a sweet and sour moment. We didn’t want to win it this way, with a DNF, but it’s still a win. We’re very proud of the team. They did a very good job all season. It’s a shame we didn’t win it the way we wanted. We had the fastest car here, and one of the best lineups. We were just cruising for the first three hours, with every intention to then fight for the win. David was so fast, and we were saving Renger for the end for the final fight. We knew with our better car and Renger behind the wheel, we could make it and get the win. I have to thank the whole team for everything they’ve done to clinch the championship. It’s truly a championship for all of us.

 

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Starworks Motorsports Closes in on IMSA WeatherTech Championship

The battle for the IMSA WeatherTech Championship PC class title has come down to Petit Le Mans, and Starworks Motorsport enters the final event of the year with a satisfying lead. Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow have showed a commanding performance in 2016, finishing on the podium in eight of the ten races completed up to this point in the season.

With one race remaining, the No. 8 of van der Zande, Popow, and Starworks Motorsport lead the PC Driver and Team Championships by ten points. In order to win the championship, the No. 8 car will have to finish in sixth place or better. While the team has amassed four wins this season, much can happen in the 10 hours of racing at Petit Le Mans. David Heinemeier Hansson will return to the No. 8 to complete the driving trio, having raced previously celebrated a third place finish this year with the team at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Full season entrant Mark Kvamme will again be joined in the No. 88 Popcorn Sutton car by Richard Bradley, a duo with whom the car earned a podium finish earlier this year at the 6 Hours of the Glen. Max Hanratty will round out the trio, coming from a full season in the Mazda Prototype Lites Series.
The No. 7 will host a completely new lineup for the final race as Starworks Motorsport welcome Stefano Coletti, James Dayson, and Quinlan Lall to the roundup. After competing in open wheel racing, including the IndyCar Series, for a decade, Coletti had his first sports car experience in the European Le Mans Series in 2016, earning a second place finish at Silverstone with SMP Racing. Dayson will join the team from Mazda Prototype Lites, where he celebrated a four race streak of top five finishes. Seventeen year old Quinlan Lall will be among one of the youngest drivers in the field, coming from a full season in the British F3 Championship.

The field will take the green flag for the 19th Annual Petit Le Mans Saturday, October 1 at 11:00AM Eastern. For broadcast information, visit imsa.com.

Quotes

Peter Baron
COTA was one of the most stressful races we have had, but that extremely satisfying win put us in good standing for the championship. Renger did an amazing job keeping the 52 car, which is our championship competition, behind us for 100 minutes. That win extended our lead, but didn’t come easy. We lost our computers from overheating, and with network issues, we lost all telemetry and timing and scoring. The whole team was flawless and we took that fifth win. We need just one more solid run, and we’ll be celebrating the championship. Our whole crew have done an excellent job all season long. We’re ready for the final fight of the year.

Renger van der Zande
I can’t wait for the final round. We were second last year, and won the year before that. It’s a great race, and it was always been good to us. It’s an exciting event and a lot can happen. This year, it should be dry, which makes it a special race in the dark. It’s always a long race, because the track is so physical. It’s fast and dangerous, and altogether a good track for us to look forward to. We still need to figure out the set up a little bit, but all year long we’ve been able to get it together in the first couple practices. It’s sad that this is the final race of the season, but we should be able to win the championship. I’ve enjoyed this season a lot, especially with Peter and Alex. It’s great to have David return as well. We’re focused on winning this race and the championship.

Alex Popow
Not available for comment

David Heinemeier Hansson
Alex and Renger have done such a smashing job this season that the pressure at Petit is reduced to finishing 6th or better. That’s a pretty manageable target, as long as we can keep the car in one piece. So we’re going to get the minimum times taken care of and then go for that win!

Mark Kvamme
It’s hard to believe the final race of the year is upon us already, but the team is ready to give it all we’ve got. After finishing on the podium at the last endurance race, we have every confidence that we can do it again. Richard is back in the car, and we’re looking forward to welcoming Max to the No. 88. We’re looking forward to ending the race on a high note

Richard Bradley
I’m very excited to be racing in my first Petit Le Mans. It’s a race I have heard a lot of good things about and I particularly enjoy racing in the night, so that makes this race extra special for me. I think we can be happy with the progress we have made with the 88 car this season. Whilst there’s been some bad luck, the speed has always been there and I think Mark and myself can be very happy with the job we have done and the progress we have made. We will be doing our best to leave Petit with a good result, which provided we keep our nose clean, I think we can achieve along with Max.

Max Hanratty
I’m extremely excited to be making my IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut with Starworks Motorsport in the #88 Popcorn Sutton entry for the final Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup race at Petit Le Mans. Although driving the Oreca FLM09 chassis in the PC category will be a new challenge for me, I know my way around Road Atlanta quite well which will help make it a smoother transition to the bigger car. I have two very experienced teammates in Richard Bradley and Mark Kvamme and I look forward to learning all I can from them. The Starworks crew has been great in giving me all the resources I need to prepare for the event. We’re going into Petit without expectations and are going to just drive and see what happens. I want to thank Peter Baron of Starworks and Popcorn Sutton for this opportunity.

Stefano Coletti
I am really excited to race the next Petit Le Mans with Starworks Motorsport.It will be a new experience that will give me the chance to discover the IMSA world and a very nice track like Road Atlanta. I will race against new drivers but I will also meet old good friends like Renger.
I really want to thank Peter Baron and the whole Starworks team for this great opportunity and I wish to thanks also my ELMS team, SMP Racing, for making it possible. I will surely give my best.

James Dayson
I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to run in the WeatherTech Championship series finale with Starworks in the No. 7 PC car. It’s a huge challenge for me and one I can’t wait to take on. All the work I’ve been putting into my career has helped get me ready for this opportunity and I’m going give it my all. Lites has been a great season for me so far, and moving up to this car will be fun, as it’s a much different beast. I can’t wait to team up with Stefano and Quinlan and learn from them and have fun and aim for a class win. It’s a long race, so we need to do our best and run strong. Thanks to Peter and the Starworks team for this opportunity. I’m honored and hope it helps me to continue my goal of running full time in WeatherTech in the next couple of years.

Quinlan Lall
The ability to do Petit Le Mans with Starworks is a real privilege. Coming off the back of a season in BRDC British Formula 3 and stepping into an endurance race will be a very unique experience. Starworks is the best of the best when it comes to endurance racing, and together we can have a great chance of being very competitive. The opportunity to race in Petit Le Mans allows me to exhibit what I’ve learned throughout this racing season and helps our preparation for 2017. Right now my goal is to execute and do the best job I can every time I’m in the car and learn as much as I can. Together, with my teammates, we can make some waves.

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Ruscitti Returns to Starworks for Northeast Grand Prix

Following a successful run at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen last month, Canadian Remo Ruscitti will return to Starworks Motorsport for Round 7 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge at Lime Rock Park. Running with Mark Kvamme and Richard Bradley in the No. 88 Popcorn Sutton Oreca, the trio achieved the car’s first podium finish, finishing third, two sports behind the race winning sister car of Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow.

With the two car effort, the team leads the Prototype Challenge points, boasting seven podium finishes in six races.

Bradley returned to the Prototype Challenge team for Round 6, the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. With Brandley competing in the World Endurance Championship this weekend in Germany, Starworks Motorsport looked throughout the IMSA field for the best candidate to fill the seat.

“Remo did a stellar job at Watkins Glen,” said Team Owner Peter Baron. “He showed good speed competing at the IMSA level, and did an excellent job keeping the car clean until the end. He’s a good fit here at Starworks, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he and Mark can do at Lime Rock Park.”

“I’m so excited to be back in the Popcorn Sutton #88 PC car with Mark coming into Lime Rock Park,” said Ruscitti. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with everyone again at Starworks Motorsport and continue building on the success we had at our last event together.”
As previously announced, the team will field a third car for the Lime Rock Park event, with Mexican Jose Gutierrez and America Sean Rayhall piloting the PC chassis owned by former Starworks driver Mirco Schultis.

Sessions for the Northeast Grand Prix begin Friday at 11:10AM Eastern. The race will air live on FOX, starting at 3:00PM Eastern.

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Starworks Motorsport Earns Double Podium at the Glen, Confirms Three Car Effort

Six Hours of the Glen
Last weekend at Watkins Glen International Starworks Motorsport earned its first double podium finish of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The No. 8 ORECA, driven by Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow finished first at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, repeating their 2015 win. The No. 88 Popcorn Sutton ORECA picked up its first podium of the season, driven by full time entry Mark Kvamme and new additions Remu Ruscitti and Richard Bradley.

Riding the momentum from a win at the Detroit Grand Prix last month, both cars performed strong leading up to the qualifying session, with van der Zande putting the No. 8 on pole position in the PC class. Kvamme qualified the No. 88 in seventh, with six full hours of racing to work though the field. Usually the race-closing driver, van der Zande started the race strong off the line, gaining a 22 second lead over the field in 20 minutes. The first full course caution of the event came within the first hour, minimizing van der Zande’s lead. Kvamme pitted from fifth position, passing the No. 88 on to Ruscitti. Van der Zande continued to lead until the end of his next stint, pitting to have Popow take over and rejoin in second.

As the field approached the halfway point, Popow and Ruscitti ran second and third, and shortly after, Ruscitti pitted to have Bradley turn his first laps of the race in third. With just under two and a half hours remaining, van der Zande resumed driving duties for the No. 8, rejoining behind teammate Bradley in third. Laying down flying lap times, van der Zande passed his teammate with two hours left on the clock, then moments later, he was again leading the race. In the final hour, the No. 88, having completed its final stop, ran fourth with Bradley and a series of cautions brought him to third for an intense battle with the No. 85 of Stephen Simpson. With mere minutes to go, Bradley made the pass for the final podium stop, celebrating with the team as the No. 8 took home the win.

Starworks Motorsport, with van der Zande and Popow now lead the IMSA Prototype Challenge Team and Driver Championships with five races left on the calendar. This week, the team journeys to Bowmanville, Ontario for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 8-10.

Three Car Effort
Following the successful weekend at the Six Hours of the Glen, the team has confirmed it will add a car to run a three-car effort at three future races on the IMSA WeatherTech calendar: Lime Rock Park’s Northeast Grand Prix, Road America’s Road Race Showcase and Circuit of the America’s Lone Star Le Mans. Jose Gutierrez will compete in the car for all three races, with co-driving duties being split with Rayhall in at Lime Rock Park, and Yacaman in for Road America and Circuit of the Americas. Lime Rock Park begins July 23, with race day on July 24. For more information, visit imsa.com.

Watkins Glen Driver Quotes

No. 8 ORECA FLM09 // Qualified P1 // Finished P1

Renger van der Zande
I think the car was unbelievable. The whole year the car has been the fastest on track, and it’s nice we can improve it as well. The last stint I had was so easy and the car was so fast. Thanks to the team. It’s great how they get the set up so in tune. We don’t go testing, we just race and get the best out of it. We made a nice decision on the set up, and that’s a victory on its own. Alex did a great job keeping the car on track and doing fast laps. From P2 I could go back to the lead and peddle away. It’s nice to have the points we have going for us. We’re on a roll. I just want to keep winning races, and Alex is thinking about the championship. We’ll just keep doing both, and it’ll be nice.

Alex Popow
It was a great race. Another win. Two in a row for Starworks at Watkins Glen. It’s a great result to have both cars on the podium. We’re very happy, and not just for the race, but for the championship. We have a good lead and a little peace of mind for the rest of the season. You never know, and we still have five races to go. It’s difficult and this championship is so tight. We have to fight each race as if it were the last championship. Renger doesn’t care too much about winning the championship, he just wants to win races. We have a good shot at the championship and we’re going to go for it.

No 98 ORECA FLM09 // Qualified P7 // Finished P3

Mark Kvamme
It’s my first podium. It’s been great working with these guys. The whole Starworks team is fantastic. Richard and Remo really killed it. Richard had some bumper cars out there and did a fantastic job. It was a fabulous race.

Richard Bradley
It’s an amazing result for the team to have a first and a third place finish. From our Popcorn Sutton car to have their first podium at an event like the Six Hours of the Glen is fantastic. It was my first time racing in America and the team was great. They made me feel very welcome, as did the series. We definitely were quick and with a bit more luck from the yellows, we could have been up there and fighting for the win. We took a gamble on the fuel, and we’re very happy with P3.

Remo Ruscitti
It was an awesome weekend for Starworks Motorsports with a double podium. It was awesome to be here. It was my second weekend in a PC car, and it couldn’t have gone any better. Thanks to Peter, Tom and everybody who was on the car this weekend. I’m happy Richard was able to fight with the JDC car to get it at the end.

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Starworks Motorsports Wins Second Consecutive Detroit Grand Prix

Saturday at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, Starworks Motorsports earned their first win of the season for the No. 8 ORECA FLM09 with drivers Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande. The successful run marked the second consecutive win at the Detroit Grand Prix for the Florida based team. Not only did the duo land on the top step in the PC class, but Popow and van der Zande also finished third overall behind two DP cars in the top class.

Following a competitive qualifying session the day before, the No. 8 car earned a third place starting position. Popow showed a strong, clean start, climbing up to second by the time the first full course caution came out on lap nine. Popow kept the car in second for the entirety of his stint, achieving the required minimum drive time of 35 minutes. As the team called Popow in to pit for a full service stop, a full course caution came out, closing the pits and delaying the stop, instantly changing the team’s strategy for the final stint. Detroit 2016 IMSA Weathertech Series

Popow pitted from first and Renger took over the car with a full tank of fuel and fresh tires, rejoining in third as the field went back to green. From there, the rest of the race was between van der Zande and race leader Colin Braun, six seconds ahead. The race brought another caution with 30 minutes to go, allowing the field to pack up. The field went back to green, and van der Zande put on a dominating performance, setting the fastest laps of the race, running six tenths faster than Colin Braun in first. He applied heavy pressure as the two worked their way through traffic. With less than five laps to go, Braun gave in to the pressure, going wide a spinning on course. Although he continued, the spin was just what van der Zande needed to overtake and charge to the checker flag.

The win awarded Starworks Motorsports a three point lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship PC class title. The series next competes at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International in New York. The race is also the third round in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, an endurance championship within the IMSA championship. For more information, visit imsa.com.

Peter Baron // Team Owner
I’m really excited to get the win today. We’ve had good cars, we just haven’t had any luck. I think we had a strong opening by Alex to get us in a good position. We got a little bit caught out by the yellow flag that came during our pit window. Renger was amazing today. We were fastest by six tenths of a second. He caught Colin, then pressured him for ten laps until he made a mistake. That’s what gave us the win. It was a great weekend for the 8 car. Everyone on the team performed flawlessly and I’m really happy to finally get the win monkey off our backs this season.

Alex Popow
Finally! We were 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and then 2nd again. Now finally we’re at the end of the ladder. We have to fight to try to keep it and to win more races. I know the team and we as drivers can win races. We haven’t been able to put it all together, but we now have that monkey off our backs. We’re leading the championship by three points, and we’re going to keep fighting for the championship. That’s what we’re here for, and we’re hoping we don’t have any more bad luck.

Renger van der Zande
Man, what a race. I thought we lost it with that yellow flag coming off at the wrong point. I knew it was going to be a hard fight, and certainly didn’t think we were going to win after that. I chased the leaders down, first to P3, then to P2. When I was behind Colin, I overtook one of the Mazdas. When I made that pass, I was just chasing down Colin, who was maybe six seconds ahead. We did the fastest lap we’ve done here. I gave it my all. I just didn’t want to be second again. In the end, Colin went wide and spun off, and after that it was controlling the race. It was a nice one, and a very sweet one.

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Ask Renger: Laguna Seca

At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Renger van der Zande asked you to send him your questions about the race weekend. In addition to answering all of them, he picked his favorite question to win a signed visor, read his answers and find out the winner below!

Steve: How many air miles have you racked up so far this year? Air miles have been crazy. Especially in January and February, when I was going to Florida 3 times, and then to Dubai and also Australia for Bathurst.

Vickie: With your practice time 1:20.094 what would your time be if you ran track in reverse?
I don’t have a clue! I have never tried it, but it would be fun though!

Michael: Why do you think you are so quick in the rain?
Thank you for that. I do feel very confident in the rain and in this LMPC car especially. In the beginning, I thought it was because the American drivers are not used to it, because I always saw the American racing being stopped when there was rain coming. But that is not the case, as we saw that at Petit Le Mans last year! I think this LMPC car gives great feedback to the driver in the rain and I am confident there.

Ben: What’s the worst race car you’ve ever driven?
I drove a Volvo 360 cup race. For sure that was the slowest car I have driven. But at the same time I had so much fun that day. The racing was truly great fun, and those guys knew their car inside out so the competition was tough!

Ben: Has anyone ever pronounced your name correctly?
Some people call me the Walker Texas Ranger.

Harry: What is the most challenging turn or turns on the racetrack and how much of a compromise do you take to maximize the car?
Laguna Seca is a nonstop track. Never a dull moment. There’s no time to rest or relax, which is what makes it hard. I think the combination of the fast T7, Corkscrew and that fast left hander just after that again makes it with all the height difference very challenging to get a good lap together.

Stephen: How do you fully prepare for a race weekend?
I watch a little bit on onboard for new tracks and if my teammate wants information about the track I work it out, which is a good prep for me too. Next to that, I work with my engineers on what setup we want to use.

Tim: During long stints, what do you do when you need to go to the restroom?
I have” been there and DONE that.”

Tim: In all the years you been racing have you had a favorite race car?
I have raced quite a bit in the Mercedes GT3 SLS and it’s such an iconic race car. I like it a lot.

Baptiste: Which do you prefer, kart racing or prototype racing?
Kart racing is loads of fun, but the real deal is the prototype racing.

Eric: How many spankings is Peter getting on his birthday this year?
That’s not only happening on his birthday.

Jessica: On average, how many wedgies is he afflicted with per race weekend? Those onesie race suits have got to ride.
NO IDEA, and I don’t want to know!

Andrew: If it were up to you, would you change it so PC cars had roofs on them for added safety, or do you prefer driving an open cockpit car?
I do like the open cockpit. There should be some old school racing factors in there and having your head in the wind is one of the better ones.

Danny: What’s the estimated number of shifts during this race?
No idea. It’s a lot!

And the winning question:
David Stunnenberg: Can you describe the feeling you get when you go through the corkscrew the first time during a weekend?
It’s a good question. When I fly all the way from Holland to California, leaving the house, taking the tram and train, a 12 hour flight and a four hour rental car ride, track walk and a jetlagged night of sleep, I am always very happy to jump in my racecar and get that thing to race around! Laguna Seca is a highlight  track for me, and so is the corkscrew. It’s a corner that you go in completely blind, and the first time you can really see the track again is when you are already going down, it’s quite a thrill.  This first time going to the corkscrew you are on cold tyres and honestly you just take it very easy. BUT, it’s that moment once a year of, “Hello crazy corner, I am back!”

 

Congratulations, David! For the rest of you, you’ll have another shot to win a prize next month for the Detroit Grand Prix #AskRenger!

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