Renger van der Zande admits that Chip Ganassi Racing faces a "steep learning curve" on its return to the IMSA SportsCar Championship at this month's season-opening Daytona 24 Hours.
After being dropped by Wayne Taylor Racing for 2021, the two-time Daytona winner was picked up by series returnee Ganassi as one of its full-time drivers alongside Haas Formula 1 exile Kevin Magnussen in a Cadillac DPi-V.R.
The pair will be joined for Daytona by six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, who shared the WTR Cadillac with van der Zande in the four long distance races that make up IMSA's Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2020.
Ganassi only announced in November last year its intentions to contest IMSA's top class, following four seasons spent running Ford's GT Le Mans programme from 2016-19.
Having only recently concluded the build of its Cadillac, it is in a minority of DPi teams not to have conducted private testing at Daytona ahead of this weekend's Roar Before the 24 test, besides a brief shakedown at Sebring.
"Our preparation time has been short, and the strong Cadillac tracks like Long Beach and Laguna Seca are now at the end of the season," van der Zande told Autosport.
"We should have more time to go testing and prepare for the season after Daytona, but we just finished building the car and going into the race without any real testing is gonna be tough.
"We just have to stay out of trouble and do the basics right, and see if the others make a mistake. Daytona will be a big steep learning curve and after that we can focus on preparing the rest of the season."
The Dutchman said the "timing was perfect" to make the switch to Ganassi following his surprise dismissal from WTR ahead of last November's Sebring 12 Hours season finale.
"I spent two or three days at the workshop and I was very impressed by the facility and the amount of things they can make themselves," van der Zande recalled.
"It's just impressive how they build the car, there was nothing that I asked for that was not possible.
"It's gonna be a new start from the engineering side, and we have no experience with the car in terms of testing, but I can bring some knowledge because I drove the car for three years.
"Of course I am proud to be part of such a team, with Chip, Mike Hull [managing director] and all the engineers and mechanics.
"They are real racers. You can feel it in the workshop; it's very nice, but it's not fancy. It's just effective.
"They do things very efficiently and they are very clear on their targets, which is to win races."
Van der Zande added that the new-for-2021 qualifying race that will set the grid for the 24 Hours will be beneficial to the team in its efforts to learn the car.
"I think it's great for us at Ganassi, because we are lacking experience and it means we get a race before the big race," he said.
"It's a real test case, and lets us work on the strategy.
"For us it should give an advantage, and I think it's good to put everyone on their toes instead of just running around in circles for three days like we usually do."