Cadillac continues prep for qualifying, race

Every test session is a learning opportunity with the new Cadillac V-LMDh race car.


Full fuel runs and work on incremental performance gains were among the main points of the test program on the second day of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 as Cadillac Racing continued preparations for the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The three Cadillac V-LMDh race cars combined for 209 laps in the three test sessions totaling 270 minutes in changeable weather conditions on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway road course. With a drying circuit under the lights, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh was among the four cars in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class to venture onto the track in the two-hour session and turned 18 laps.


“We starting to get more and more prepared each run, each session with driver changes, refueling, getting used to all the cars around and test the car in the rain,” said Earl Bamber, co-driver of the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh. “I think session by session we feel better about qualifying on Sunday.”


The 20-minute qualifying session for the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. ET Jan. 22. Peacock will provide streaming coverage of qualifying starting at 1:25 p.m. Cadillac earned the pole for the twice-around-the-clock race in 2017, 2018 and ’21 in the DPi era.


“We did a really long run. It was nice to do a full stint all the way through, then stop and fill up the tank and see that difference between the first fuel fill with a new set of tires and fuel fill and a used set,” said Alexander Sims, co-driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh after the late afternoon session. “Useful information. It’s just a test session but so many cars on track there is stuff happening all the time, which is useful for running in traffic during the race.”


Added Ranger van der Zande, co-driver of the No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh: “I think we made good steps to control the systems that we have on this car. It’s a complicated car and I think we have a good group from General Motors, Ganassi, Dallara and Bosch. We want to make sure everybody is facing the same way, so that’s a good base to move forward from. Today, we started to dial in our group more and more.”


The electrified Cadillac prototype features an all-new Cadillac 5.5-liter DOHC V8 engine developed by GM’s Performance and Racing propulsion team based in Pontiac, Michigan, with a seven-speed sequential gearbox. IMSA has specified the power output at 670 horsepower, including the hybrid system; weight at 1,030kg without fuel and driver; and a maximum of 8,800 RPM.


Cadillac, the only LMDh manufacturer with a naturally aspirated engine for the new prototype in the GTP class, will seek to build on its legacy of success in the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona with its fifth overall victory 2017. 


Sporting championship rings


Members of Action Express Racing were presented rings for their 2021 IMSA DPi team championship season by George “Sonny” Whelen and Christine Whelen – owners of Whelen Engineering, the primary sponsor on the No. 31 Cadillac V-LMDh.


Whelen Engineering first partnered with Action Express Racing in 2015.


“It’s a little emotional because we won the championship in 2021 and it shows that despite all the (medical) issues they’ve had they still consider us part of their family,” said Pipo Derani, the ’21 DPi driver champion. “To come back here and do this amazing gesture for all of us is fantastic. It shows what kind of people they are and it’s great to be part of a fantastic group like this.”


Since 1952, the Whelen Engineering Company has been a global leader in the design and manufacturing of reliable and powerful warning lights, white illumination lighting, sirens, controllers and high-powered warning systems for automotive, aviation and mass notification industries.

Collaboration from the start


From the outset, Cadillac Racing and its drivers have been instrumental in developing the Michelin GTP class tires for the 2023 season both on the Dallara and Chevrolet simulators and during on-track testing.


“The tire is probably the most critical component on the car in that it’s the only place that the entire car connects to the ground and the car itself is built around the tire,” GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser said. “The tire and the suspension need to work together or otherwise you’ll be fighting the car constantly.


“So, developing the tire with Michelin from the beginning was critical in making sure our car performed. Between the simulation that we’ve done, the many miles we’ve put on the car, the countless feedback sessions we’ve had with Michelin working together, that collaboration has given us a great package because ultimately the car is the sum of its parts.”


GTP teams have 33 sets of Michelin tires (12 soft “low temperature” and 21 soft “high temperature”) at their disposal for this weekend and the sessions leading into the twice-around-the-clock race. They will have 21 sets total for the race.


Did you know about the unicorn?


Jack Aitken, endurance driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-LMDh incorporated a unicorn in his helmet design. “The core design on the side is my logo, so it’s a big JA. My painter is kind of a made genius who lives in The Netherlands and he made the initials out of geometry shapes, like a mosaic, and put some tartan in there for your Scottish heritage and some of the colors of the Korean flag. On the back is a unicorn in the same motif and that’s because the national animal of Scotland is a unicorn. Most people are shocked when I tell them. It’s like a cool conversation piece.” … Earl Bamber, co-driver of the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh, drove in the 24H Dubai last weekend. The Grove Motorsports team finished fourth in the GT3 class. “I treated it as a good warm-up for the Rolex 24,” he said.