New NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou got his first taste of IMSA’s DPi formula on Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway, and based on how the Chip Ganassi Racing driver described the experience, the Spaniard loved everything the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R had to offer.
“I drove a GT3 car before, but never a prototype, so it was really cool, I had lots of fun, didn’t know the track and didn’t know obviously how a prototype behaves,” Palou told RACER. “It went by super-fast, but it was really fun. It was more fun than I thought it would be, to be honest.”
With extensive open-wheel experience, Palou wasn’t sure how the Dallara-built Cadillac DPi would compare to his No. 10 Dallara DW12-Honda IndyCar.
“It’s quite easy to get used to just because it drives… let’s say… easier than an IndyCar. Like, it doesn’t try to kill you every corner!” Palou said with a laugh. “You have a good relationship with the car. And it’s not hard to drive with the power steering; you can really manage the car and you can control it and you can predict a lot of what it will do. So that’s a good thing. And then it surprised me that how big the car is and how quick it moves. It’s super-reactive.
“You need to get your head around that the car is able to do more than what you think at the beginning. It’s fast, but it doesn’t give you that sensation of going that quick as an IndyCar just because it’s all the time under control. But it’s really fun.”
Although the Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing team has not announced its full roster for the Nos. 01 and 02 DPi-V.R lineups for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 01 will be known as the ‘Champions’ Caddy’ if the lineup of Palou, Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, and Scott Dixon is retained. With Palou’s 2021 IndyCar title, van der Zande’s 2016 IMS LMPC championship, Bourdais’ four Champ Car titles, and Dixon’s six IndyCar crowns, the depth of success within the car is extraordinary.
“I was with Sebastien, Renger and Dixon, so it’s pretty strong,” Palou said. “If we could have this group in the car for the race, it would be crazy. For me, it’s just super-special to work with Renger; I don’t know how many years he has in that car, but really knows everything. So you have a benchmark, and you have somebody to rely on with any question. And Dixie, like, this guy is just insane. Like I need to tell anybody about him.
“Sebastien, it was the first time I worked with him. Super-open guy; he tries to to always improve the car, which I think is really, really good. I’m a person that, if I’m more or less happy with the car, I would just go and just drive. And he’s always trying to get more and more and more. And that just elevates the performance of the car and the team overall. I learned a lot from him already in how he does this, and it makes me think about how I can do this more in IndyCar. It’s an amazing group Chip has in both cars, and they welcomed me and put a lot of time into me to learn everything. I really hope I can do my first IMSA race at Daytona.”