Rollback to 2017, and you’ll enjoy a time when Cadillac made its racing debut with its IMSA Daytona Prototype International (DPi) race car in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
2023 will see its replacement competing in the new IMSA GTP Class AND the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) Hypercar Class – a first, as Cadillac has never raced in the FIA WEC. Just like Corvette Racing in 2022, they will now race internationally in the FIA WEC series, including the 100th-anniversary race of Le Mans on the weekend of June 10th-11th, 2023.
The recently retired Cadillac DPi-V.R, to give it its full name, was powered by a naturally aspirated Cadillac 6.2-liter V8 engine that shares its inherent architecture with the engines of the third-generation Cadillac CTS-V series cars. The CTS-V engine is the same LT4 also found in the C7 Z06 Corvette.
The new Cadillac is designated V-LMDh (V for Cadillac V series – LM for Le Mans, D for Daytona, and ‘h’ for Hybrid). It features a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter DOHC (Double OverHead Cam) V8 engine, similar to the 5.5-liter engine found in the rear of the current Corvette C8R race car. However, they are apparently entirely different, as the Cadillac engine doesn’t contain a flat-plane crank – and it sounds all the better. The V-LMDh chassis is built by Dallara, the same Italian company that built the DPi-V.R chassis for Cadillac, so this is a continuing relationship. What is new for all of the GTP Class entries is the LMDh hybrid unit – which is common across all of the manufacturers – and will provide up to 680 horsepower for Cadillac’s first hybrid prototype. Together with the new specification energy recovery system – combining Bosch’s motor generator unit, a battery from Williams Advanced Engineering, and a gearbox by Xtrac — the 680-horsepower race car will provide a much more challenging driving experience for the roster of Cadillac race car drivers in 2023 as the new car is heavier than the car it replaces, and it features less aerodynamic downforce.
The full-time roster of Cadillac factory drivers for 2023 is as follows:
Brit Ex-Corvette Racing driver, Alexander Sims, will join Brazilian hot shoe, Pipo Derani, who has raced for Action Express since 2019 in the #31 Cadillac DPi. The two drivers will be onboard for the entire IMSA season, with another Brit, Jack Aitken, joining for the four endurance rounds. In addition, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and Dutchman Renger van der Zande will pair up to race the #01 Chip Ganassi Cadillac V-LMDh, and Kiwi, Scott Dixon will join them for the endurance rounds. Both teams will race under the Cadillac Racing banner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023. In the FIA WEC, Chip Ganassi will run the Cadillac V-LMDh with Brits Richard Westbrook and Alex Lynn joining another Kiwi, Earl Bamber, for the 2023 season – they will also race the 24 Hours of Daytona as an opportunity to get to know the car and also provide the Cadillac Racing engineers with more valuable data on this completely new car that features a whole raft of new electronic control systems – before they race the first round of the FIA WEC at Sebring on the 17th of March 2023.
The Cadillac V-LMDh will be the most technically advanced car that Cadillac has ever raced, and nearly every system is now “by-wire,” including braking, steering, and accelerating. It will be very challenging to get all these new systems to work together while integrating the new hybrid unit, which regenerates its power under braking conditions. This is especially true at Daytona International Speedway, where the cars use the brakes much less than they would at a traditional IMSA circuit, and the car spends a larger proportion of the lap at full throttle.
Currently, the Cadillac Racing team is busily working with the sanctioning bodies (IMSA, FIA, ACO) to ensure that all of the relevant paperwork for the new cars is in order before the start of the racing season, which is just three weeks away. Meanwhile, the logistics nightmare of the post-covid-world keeps the team on their toes regarding building up a robust spares package to support a three-car attack on the longest race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – the 24 Hours of Daytona run over the weekend of the 28th-29th of January 2023. In addition, they are also taking part in the three-day test weekend – the Roar Before The 24 – the weekend before the race and at the Daytona International Speedway.
The other manufacturers in the new IMSA GTP Class competing at Daytona include Porsche, who are entering two new 963 cars with Penske Porsche Motorsport running them both. In addition, BMW M Team RLL is entering two new BMW M Hybrid V8 race cars. Two Acura ARX-06 cars are entered, one from Wayne Taylor Racing and one from Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian.
The upcoming season promises to be a fantastic year for endurance racing, with NBC committing to broadcast most of the IMSA WeatherTech series live or time delayed on the race day, which will be great for armchair fans. Those who like their racing experience to be more personal will get the opportunity to be trackside and witness these beautiful machines up close and in the carbon.
The FIA WEC will feature Hypercars from Toyota, Glickenhaus, Peugeot, and Ferrari racing alongside the Cadillac. Isotta Fraschini, who ceased to exist in 1949, will join the Hypercar field mid-way through the 2023 season, possibly as early as the Spa Francorchamps Round at the end of April. ByKolles are also planning a new Hypercar, possibly for 2023, resurrecting the Vanwall name, which last competed in 1960. Lamborghini has announced a new Hypercar, which will compete from 2024 onwards. All these will make for a fascinating next couple of years in World Endurance racing.