Dutchman van der Zande posted the fastest lap of the race - a 1m34.652s - early in the 17th hour of the race during a quintuple stint in which he stretched the advantage of the #10 Cadillac DPi-V.R he shared with Kobayashi, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe.
The quartet went on to secure victory, overcoming a full-course yellow that wiped out a lead of more than a minute and a subsequent penalty for jumping the red light in the pitlane.
Van der Zande described the WTR Caddy as "the best car I’ve driven around this track, for sure", partly thanks to some of the adjustments made after the team qualified fifth, seven tenths off the pace of the pole-winning Mazda RT24-P.
"I think to be honest, it was all done in the preparation," he said when asked what was key to his speed. "From all the four drivers and engineers, we found some items in the car that weren’t working in qualifying but knew it would work in the race.
"Kamui made some really weird changes in the setup in the TC [traction control] but it really helped. We were laughing about it, but it’s not often you feel so naturally and so fast with a car.
"I was in for four stints and I even asked for another since I was enjoying it so much and they gave it to me. I was enjoying the moment."
Overall Winner #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Cadillac DPi, DPi: Renger Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Kamui Kobayashi
Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images