On the way to Le Mans: poor input from Dutch soil

For the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, only six Dutchmen are taking part. A bit poor compared to other years. Partly due to the disappearance of Racing Team Netherlands, there is a big bite out of the Dutch contribution. But Beitske Visser and one-time winner of Le Mans Jeroen Bleekemolen also skip a year. But who will participate? GPToday.net lists all six of them.

Tijmen van der Helm – TDS Racing x Vaillante LMP2 #13
Teammates: Philippe Cimadomo and Mathias Beche

Van der Helm is best known for his participation in Formula 3 in 2021. The 18-year-old driver, born in Den Hoorn, did not really impress. Driving for the Dutch team of MP Motorsport, he did not score a single point. Van der Helm was unable to continue this adventure and had to look for a new challenge.

The young rider found it in long-distance racing. ARC Bratislava, competing in the World Endurance Championship, signed Van der Helm for 2022. But his first test came at this year’s famous 24 Hours of Daytona, just after his eighteenth birthday. However, Van der Helm dropped out with the Russian team G-Drive Racing with APR.

The WEC did not go much better. At the opening race of the 1000 miles of Sebring at the beginning of March, Van der Helm and his team finished 13th in the LMP2. Two months later, a DNF was added to his name at the historic Spa Francorchamps during the six-hour race – and that of Bent Viscaal due to the crash of teammate and team principal Miroslav Konopka.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In the meantime, there was also something to celebrate in the European Le Mans Series, in which Van der Helm also participated. With TDS Racing x Vaillante he scored twice a podium in the LMP2 Pro/Am class and twice a top ten in the normal LMP2.

Bent ViscalARC Bratislava – LMP2 #44
Teammates: Tristan Vautier and Miro Konopka

In addition to Van der Helm, another young racing driver from Dutch soil hopes to make his debut. His name: Bent Viscal. The born rider from Albergen is eager to participate.

Like Van der Helm, the former F3 and F2 driver will compete for ARC Bratislava in the WEC, but will not drive together in Le Mans, but against each other in the LMP2. The first race in the WEC ended in disappointment and was unable to drive due to a crash by his teammate.

Viscaal secured the seat in the World Endurance Championship thanks to his strong performances in the European Le Mans Series. On his debut in endurance racing, he immediately scored a podium on Paul Ricard with Sophia Floersch.

This year Viscaal opted for an adventure in a different class because he could not secure a place in Formula 2. The dream of F1 has temporarily had to give up. In Formula 3 he took two podiums, one of which was a win. In Formula 2, the driver from Albergen was flagged second twice.

Robin Frijns – WRT – LMP2 #31
Teammates: Sean Gelael and Rene Rast

Robin Frijns is best known for his performances in Formula E. Since 2015, the born driver from Maastricht has been a fixed value in the electric openwheeler. His best end result in this series is fourth place and can generally be found from the front, so he takes his podiums.

However, the 30-year-old’s greatest successes are in endurance racing, with important championships and races to his name. In 2021, for example, he won Le Mans with the Belgian WRT in the LMP2 category and had an important part in winning the championship in the WEC.

Frijns was also active in the DTM from 2018 to 2020 and took a lot of honors in his last season and finished in third place in the ranking.

In short, there is no doubt that Frijns has talent. The versatile driver in the junior classes has already proven that. However, it has never led to a Formula 1 seat, partly perhaps due to his negative statements about Red Bull in the past. The Dutchman has been reserve driver for Sauber and Caterham in the period 2012 to 2014.

Nicky Catsburg – Corvette Racing – GTE Pro #63
Teammates: Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor

With only seven cars in the GTE Pro field, there is certainly a chance of success for Nicky Catsburg. The 34-year-old driver from Amsersfoort was second in this category last year.

Catsburg achieved his greatest victories in America. The driver won the 2021 Daytona 24 Hours in the GTLM class and this year won the Sebring 12 Hours in the GTD Pro.

Job van Uitert – Panis Racing – GTE Am #65
Teammates: Julien Canal and Nicolas Jamin

Job van Uitert is seen as a great talent in long-distance racing. The only 23-year-old driver comes from Dongen and has already completed some nice meters in the endurance. After his F4 period, van Uitert took the decision to continue his career in the European Le Mans Series in the LMP2.

In 2018 he made his debut there and immediately won the championship. In his first 24 hours of Le Mans, the driver finished sixth in the same class.

In 2021 Racing Team Netherlands asked Van Uitert to participate in Le Mans. Together with Giedo van den Garde and Frits van Eerd. In the LMP2 class, the team finished eleventh and the bright yellow car moved into second place in the LMP2 Pro/Am category.

Now the 23-year-old driver is competing in the GTE Am class and that will be a whole new experience for the young Dutchman.

Renger van der Zande – JMW Motorsport – GTE Am #66
Teammates: Mark Kvamme and Jason Hart

Most will know Renger van der Zande from his role as an analyst on the TV program Race Cafe on Ziggo Sports. Thanks to this platform, the 36-year-old driver is also becoming increasingly visible on the track. Not in Europe, but overseas in the lesser known IMSA.

The Dutchman has been shining in the American endurance championship since his debut in 2014. Two years later, he won the championship with team Starworks Motorsport and won the most important endurance race in the United States in 2018 and 2019: the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Things didn’t go smoothly in Le Mans. In 2018 and 2019, the 36-year-old rider failed to even finish in the LMP1 series and was twelfth in the LMP2 in 2020. Still, there was a little more reason for optimism in 2021. Renger van der Zande finished fifth in the same class as a year earlier.