Cadillac boosts Le Mans prep with extra testing, new European base

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Cadillac boosts Le Mans prep with extra testing, new European base

Le Mans/WEC

Cadillac boosts Le Mans prep with extra testing, new European base


Cadillac Racing’s FIA World Endurance Championship team is set to return to the Portimao circuit after the 6 Hours of Spa in two weeks’ time, as part of the preparations for its Le Mans Hypercar in June.

The Ganassi-run team, which campaigns a single full-season V-Series.R that will be joined by a second car at Spa and Le Mans, will run a single car at the Portuguese circuit for multiple days. All six factory drivers from the IMSA and WEC teams are set to share the wheel.

The test will be an endurance test, with the team targeting a 24-hour run to help ready the team before it competes at Le Mans for the first time with its LMDh. Cadillac feels this test will be a valuable as a tool to help the team members get ready for the biggest race of the season.

“We are using the test as a race sim to prepare both crews for Le Mans,” Cadillac Racing team manager Stephen Mitas told RACER. “Obviously, the logistics of getting people here and then back for the (IMSA) race at Laguna is a challenge. But this circuit was available and fits our requirements.

“It’s race prep for us not in terms of preparing the vehicle, it’s about preparing the team. If you were doing race prep, you wouldn’t likely choose this circuit.”

The level of resources for Cadillac Racing’s global program continues to grow. Chip Ganassi Racing now has four cars at its disposal, two in Europe for its FIA WEC effort, which are both on-site in Portimao this week, and two in the USA for its IMSA program.

For Cadillac it makes sense from a logistical standpoint to have multiple chassis on either side of the Atlantic and as it allows it to dedicate each car to just one championship. The team feels the most sensible solution to running cars in IMSA and the FIA WEC is to build cars specifically for each championship rather than convert them from IMSA to WEC spec and vice versa multiple times during the season.

“There’s a scrutineering loom which is different, TV stuff that’s different,” Mitas explained. “There are subtle differences, some straightforward, some less straightforward, but you definitely need a specific car build for WEC and Le Mans compared to IMSA. You can (keep converting the cars) but it’s a lot of work. Once you put all that stuff in the car you don’t want to be pulling it out unless you have to. Doing that a few times a year is undesirable.”

Action Express will do the same. It will not run its Sebring-winning IMSA chassis in France when it heads to Europe for Le Mans. Instead, it will utilize a brand-new V-Series.R.

In addition to obtaining a second chassis for its European operation, Cadillac will soon move into a permanent facility in Stuttgart, Germany that will serve as a base for the WEC program. Time in its new home will be limited until after Le Mans, but Mitas told RACER that having a race shop in Europe will be important for the effort going forward.

“We are transitioning to a program that was based in the U.S., to a program that has a second base in Europe,” he said. “Now, as the FIA WEC transitions to Europe, the cars also transition to Europe. We built up the second car for Spa at Dallara during the past couple of weeks and car No. 2 (used at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring) was air freighted from the base in Indy to here in Portugal directly for this event.

“From here, we go to our workshop where we will start work on the cars next week. Part of this includes finishing the build of the second car and fitting its race engine. It’s important — between now and Le Mans, we have a few days in the shop before Spa, then we go testing, then a few days back in the shop, then we go to France. We have about two weeks in the shop between now and Le Mans. But, after Le Mans, things will become more established.”