Hard-fought Long Beach finish for Cadillac Racing

No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R places fifth on street circuit

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2023) — Starting seventh on the sole street circuit on the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R group decided an alternate strategy was in order to challenge for its second consecutive victory.

That strategy included a full-course caution that came too late in the 100-minute race. Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims co-drove to a fifth-place finish in the third round of the Grand Touring Prototype season.

Sims brought the hybrid prototype into the pits on Lap 6 and gave way to Derani, who systematically moved up and ran second on Lap 38. Derani returned the No. 31 Cadillac to the pits for service on Lap 52 of the 78-lap total, but the strategy didn’t play out to challenge for the lead as the top four cars made one stop in the race.

“We have to make a lot of decisions and one of them was we were toward the back of the pack anyway and passing is so difficult on the track. So, our best shot was to get the driver change done as quick as possible and then any time before the halfway point — when everybody else started pitting – with a yellow flag all of sudden we’re going to have a quicker pit stop than them because they still have to do their driver change,” team manager Gary Nelson said.

“It was the right move early and with a yellow we’re in contention to win. Without a yellow, we have to try to pass people and passing is a higher risk of not finishing than the risk of pitting early.”

Derani and Sims, who teamed with endurance driver Jack Aitken to win the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, are one point out of the championship lead. The No. 6 Porsche 963 won under caution – the yellow flag flying with three minutes left.

Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande, who won the 2022 Long Beach race to lead a Cadillac sweep of the podium, were unable to mount a challenge as a first-lap incident forced retirement of the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R. It was classified eighth in the GTP class.

Bourdais, who qualified third with a lap of 1 minute, 10.981 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, lost grip making a charge for the lead entering Turn 1 and spun, with the nose of the hybrid prototype making contact with the unforgiving concrete barrier.

Cadillac Racing had won the past five races at Long Beach dating to the start of the DPi era. The two Cadillac prototypes will next challenge for the victory May 14 on the undulating 2.238-mile, 11-turn WeatherTech Raceway Laguna road course in a 2-hour, 40-minute race.

Alexander Sims:

“Starting seventh doesn’t do you any favors in a sprint race on a street circuit where it’s difficult to pass, so the strategy was to pit early and give Pipo tires that had a few laps on them so they would come in quick. We were looking for the yellow that never came. We showed good pace throughout the race and Pipo did a great job. It’s still learning for us and the other teams about this car, so we’ll take the improvements and data and move on to Laguna Seca.”

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About Alexander Sims

The 36-year-old Corvette Racing driver has been involved in motorsport since he was 10 years old, initially racing karts before moving on to single seater, GT and Endurance racing and most recently four seasons in the all-electric FIA Formula E World Championship. With wins across the board including Spa 24 hours, Nurburgring 24 hours, Petit Le Mans and the Diriyah E Prix Sims continues to showcase his skill and race raft on the global stage.

Alongside his racing activities, Alexander is a passionate advocate for sustainable technology and electric mobility on the road, having owned and driven EVs since 2012, and aims to incorporate sustainable choices in his daily lifestyle wherever possible.