Cadillac Racing starts GTP era with stout efforts, reliability of three new race cars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2023) — Cadillac Racing began the Grand Touring Prototype era with third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Renger van der Zande earned a podium spot, driving the electrified No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh for the final stint of the mentally- and physically-taxing race on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway road course. He shared the seat with Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon.
Earl Bamber, Alex Lyn and Richard Westbrook co-drove the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh to fourth place in the season opener of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken persevered after a pre-dawn incident involving a GTD that necessitated a 25-minute trip to the garage finish fifth. The incident was the lone substantial setback for the new Cadillac prototypes, which only began on-track development in early July.
Questions were answered as teams, drivers and Cadillac engineers continue to learn about the car. Durability: No major mechanical or hybrid unit issues. Engine performance: Powerful. Drivability: Smooth.
“We brought three Cadillacs, which was the most of any brand, and all three took the checkered flag,” GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser said. “I’d say everyone who has worked on this project, whether it be the engineers at Cadillac, the designers at Cadillac, the engineers at Dallara, Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing – everyone – should be so proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
The Cadillac V-LMDh features an all-new Cadillac 5.5-liter DOHC V8 engine developed by GM’s Performance and Racing propulsion team based in Pontiac, Michigan. Cadillac is the only GTP competitor with a naturally aspirated engine.
The body, codeveloped by Cadillac Design, Cadillac Racing and chassis constructor Dallara, incorporates key Cadillac V-Series production car design elements.
The No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh and No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh will next compete March 18 in the Twelve Hours of Sebring on the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway. The No. 2 Cadillac V-LMDh will make its FIA World Endurance Championship debut March 17 in the 1000 of Sebring.
Cadillac Racing driver quotes
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh (qualified sixth, finished fifth)
Alexander Sims: “It’s always disappointing when you get to the end of a long race like that, put in so much effort and don’t get the result you feel you deserve. But that’s the way racing is; it’s sport. There’s one winner and a lot of losers and that’s what makes it so special when you do win. It’s the fierst race we’ve had with this car, a lot of learning has been done and I think already we see where we can make decent improvements on the car side, on my side and that’s just part of building that overall picture to continue through the championship and get the results as we go along.”
Pipo Derani: “It’s just one of those things and one of those races where you have to be there at the end and unfortunately, we got crashed by a GT. It wasn’t major, it was just a touch from the GT. But after two hours after that touch, our rear suspension gave up. So, really unfortunate there. The team did an amazing job to repair the car and put us back in contention. The car was really quick, so kind of bittersweet because we had a strong enough car to be on the podium, but that’s racing. Looks like we are going to be a strong team and I am looking forward to Sebring. The machine has worked flawless over a 24-hour race, which is incredible.”
Jack Aitken: “To finish fifth after everything that we went through in this race is quite an achievement and I think it goes to show how much attrition was out there as well. It is a shame because we led laps and were running with the leaders at the time. But that’s just bad luck in multi-class racing. We have a lot to be really proud of and it’s just the start of the season, so lots of really promising things happening. It was a great experience and very different from the other 24-hour races that I’ve done. I want to come back and hopefully get on the top step.”