Three familiar names to the Cadillac racing family – including a former DPi champion and a dynamic duo that has provided much excitement in 2022 – plus a newcomer to Cadillac and top-level prototypes will make up the core driver lineup in Cadillac’s LMDh cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP category for 2023.
Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais, who have paired for three victories this season in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Cadillac, will continue as teammates in a Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Cadillac V-LMDh. 2021 DPi champion Pipo Derani will be joined by Alexander Sims in the sister car prepared by Action Express Racing.
Additional drivers for the two Cadillac Racing GTP entries for long-distance races on the 2023 IMSA schedule, which begins with the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29, will be announced later.
“The new GTP class is set to create some of the most exciting competition in decades,” said Rory Harvey, Vice President Global Cadillac. “We look forward to seeing our world-class driver lineup in the Cadillac V-LMDh and we welcome Alexander Sims to Cadillac.”
Sims will make his IMSA prototype racing debut at Daytona in the Cadillac, but has already served as a member of the GM family, joining Corvette Racing as a third driver for the endurance races in 2021 and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.
Previous IMSA experience was with BMW Team RLL in the GTLM category. He has won some of the world’s biggest GT endurance races, including the 24 Hours of Spa and the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and is also a race winner in Formula E.
“I’m excited to be racing back in IMSA full time and to be driving the Cadillac V-LMDh,” said Sims. “It’s an impressive piece of kit. I had a good couple of years with Corvette doing some GT racing, which brought me back to the IMSA paddock.
“It’s racing that I absolutely adore. The format of the racing, the competitiveness, the tracks that we go to are brilliant.
“To be stepping across within the GM family to Cadillac in the top tier of racing with Action Express, which is a championship-winning team, is exciting for me.”
Sims has already sampled the V-LMDh, joining Derani in development sessions at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen International.
Derani, who clinched the 2021 driver title on the final laps of the Petit Le Mans, has posted six wins in the Cadillac DPi-V.R since joining Action Express Racing for the 2019 season.
Overall, Derani has made 59 starts in IMSA prototype competition since 2016. He and his new partner were competitors in Formula 3.
“As a driver, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be a part of a program of the future of endurance racing. To join Cadillac as a factory driver is a dream come true,” Derani said.
Van der Zande has registered eight IMSA victories in a Cadillac DPi-V.R since 2018 and is completing his first season sharing the seat with Bourdais. Bourdais, the four-time IndyCar Series champion, has four wins in a Cadillac DPi-V.R, including the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2021 with JDC-Miller Motorsports.
Together they have posted some impressive performances in 2022, including a drive from the back to first for Bourdais at Long Beach and a victorious late-race performance by van der Zande at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“I’m really excited and stoked to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac where I’ve been driving since 2018,” declared van der Zande. “These are the brands I’ve been with for a long time and it’s where I feel very comfortable because we have the same goals and mentality of how to approach racing and how to win.
“I’m thrilled to stay with Seb. We had a full season together and we complement each other very well on and off track in terms of cooperation so that’s something where it’s very automatic and a pleasure to continue working with him.”
Cadillac has logged a lot of miles with its drivers at several tracks such as Watkins Glen International and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta while testing the 5.5-liter V8-powered V-LMDh, which was co-developed by chassis manufacturer Dallara, Cadillac Design and Cadillac Racing.
“The development has started on the new car and we’re trying to take it to as many places as possible and I’ve been a part of that since the beginning,” Bourdais said. “It’s something I very much enjoy, developing a new car, it’s a bit like a new baby. You kind of put your mark on it and give your feedback and dream to develop it in a way where you feel one with the car.
“We have a very strong base and Cadillac and Dallara have done a great job. It’s a very exciting program and a very exciting new era for endurance racing.”
Cadillac will also compete in the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2023 as the sole U.S.-based manufacturer. Drivers of the Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be announced later for the seven-race schedule that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The season begins March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring.