Although Chip Ganassi Racing’s selection of Alex Lynn to join a newly expanded two-car Cadillac DPi program for the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship might seem to have come out of the proverbial blue, the relationship has actually been a long time coming.
“I first raced in IMSA in 2017 at Sebring with Wayne Taylor Racing and we managed to win,” recalls Lynn. “Then my career took a different trajectory in Formula E, but to be honest I really loved that experience in IMSA and I’ve always wanted to come back.”
By no means coincidentally, Lynn has been on CGR’s radar since a few hours into that same Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, when he teamed with brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor to seize the overall win.
“I first watched Alex firsthand when he drove for Wayne Taylor and saw what he did at Sebring,” says Mike Hull, managing director for Chip Ganassi Racing. “I thought he really helped to drive that team to victory there.
“I love watching races from our timing stand. I watch guys to see what they’re doing for an entire segment. Are they fast at the beginning and do they slow down? What’s their average speed? Are they maintaining good pace in the last laps of their segment? I watched the whole race, particularly when Alex was in the car, and I thought, ‘Man, this guy’s pretty good.’
“Since then, I developed a communication relationship with him and just followed what he was doing, when he went to Mahindra Formula E and so on. I thought, ‘If there’s ever an opportunity, we at least want to try and get together.’ And we have.”
What Hull saw was the former FIA GP3 champion and Williams Formula One development driver doing stellar work as a factory driver for Aston Martin in the World Endurance Championship as well as for the Virgin, Jaguar and Mahindra teams in Formula E. How stellar? Co-driving the Aston Martin Vantage to a GTE Pro win in the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans and scoring a popular win in the London ePrix, among other successes.
But, thanks to a dozen successful (and enjoyable) hours at Sebring in 2017, Lynn kept his sights on a return to the WeatherTech Championship, particularly with the introduction of the LMDh prototype on the horizon. Lynn was rewarded in October when he – along with Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais and Earl Bamber – were named to drive CGR’s two-car Daytona Prototype international (DPi) attack in 2022.
“I loved that first experience in IMSA and I’ve always wanted to come back,” the 28-year-old Brit says. “And I would definitely say the way that the sports car racing landscape is changing, I was really looking to coming to race in IMSA fulltime to join this new wave of sports car racing. For me, this is the perfect opportunity.”
If Lynn had any doubts about the quality of that opportunity, they evaporated the moment he walked into the CGR shop in Indianapolis.
“I’m someone who really loves the heritage of the sport,” he says. “So when you see the trophy case and the trophies around the shop from 20 or 30 years ago, you understand this is a proper team. They only go racing to do one thing: that is to win. And to represent not only Cadillac as a brand but Chip Ganassi Racing is really an honor.”
Lynn joins CGR at an exciting time in the team’s sports car racing evolution. Not only have they added a second Cadillac DPi-V.R to the 2022 program, the coming “new wave” of sports car racing will feature introduction of LMDh, using hybrid powertrains mated with internal combustion engines, in 2023.
“When you add a hybrid powertrain and an electrical element to any racing car, there’s now a whole new amount of performance that can be unlocked,” he says. “Obviously, the combustion engine has its limitations. The more you can do now with a hybrid powertrain and a hybrid rear axle – or any axle, for example – there is an unlimited amount of tools available to a team to add performance to the car. So there is going to be a lot of crossover between (Formula E and LMDh), and I think that was maybe part of the process in my selection for the team.”
It figures to be a fascinating season for Lynn and CGR in 2022 as they ramp up to a two-car program and strive to win races and the final DPi championship even as they prepare for LMDh. It figures to be a season fraught with challenges or, as Lynn sees it, opportunities.
“I see it as an opportunity because the team is scaling up from one to two cars (and) every procedure we put in place for next season will be carried on into 2023,” he says. “So if we can get it right first time, there’s an opportunity to win the championship next year and the races that come with it and be fully prepared for 2023.”