SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Things were looking promising for Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing through the first eight hours of the 71st running of the 12-Hours of Sebring endurance race but disaster struck in hour nine.
Sebastien Bourdais was leading the field when things started going wrong on the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R forcing the car to pit road. Smoke and flames could be seen coming out from underneath the bodywork as the car came down pit road.
“The No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R experienced a fuel distribution system issue,” Cadillac Racing said in a statement. “It is the first time we have seen it in testing — including a successful 24-hour test at Sebring International Raceway in November and two days of testing at the track in February — and race conditions. Cadillac Racing will figure out the root cause and prepare for the next race.”
“The team has worked hard to prepare for this race,” said Mike O’Gara, CGR Director of Operations. “We proved we have a fast race car and great pit stops. Some things happen that are out of your control, but that’s racing. I’m proud of the effort from the entire team, and I know we’ll keep at it and continue chasing this championship.”
The No. 01 Caddy started from the front row and led 120-laps in the race before the retirement with Bourdais grabbing the lead after just over an hour.
“It’s obviously pretty disappointing for everybody,” said Bourdais, a two-time 12-Hour winner. “The car was quick. Cadillac seems to have something that works pretty well at Sebring, so that’s really encouraging. I think we made some great progress from Daytona in performance, so that’s also encouraging for the rest of the season after finishing on the podium. It’s great to see the program heading in the right direction and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac are working very hard to make progress.”
6-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon added to the lead following the first driver change, building a 47-second lead before turning over the driving duties to Renger van der Zande following the fourth pit-stop, 4-hours and 7-minutes into the race.
“It was quite the race,” said Dixon. “The car was really fast and I felt like everybody on the team did a tremendous job. We had some ups and downs, but ultimately, we were top-three most of the race and led a good majority of it. Just bummed that it ended the way it did, and we didn’t win the race. It’s one that’s eluded me, and it would have been great to take this one. But, we had great speed, great teamwork and everybody did a hell of a job.”
van der Zande was just as quick, setting the fastest lap of the race (1:48.311) on lap 165.
“Sebring is a special one, and it’s a shame that it didn’t fall in our direction,” said van der Zande. “We had a strong Cadillac car here and while we’ve been testing all over, we’re still trying to improve things across the board. We’re still learning. We go deep to try to optimize performance. It’s just an unfortunate end to the race after showing so much speed.”
The No. 01 Cadillac crew will compete in their next IMSA race on April 15 in Long Beach, California.
Porsche Penske Motorsport grabs IMSA GTP win at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Porsche Penske Motorsport picked up their inaugural IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) win taking Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Penske’s team elected to not take tires on their one and only pit stop of the day and the time savings on pit road proved to be the difference.
Nick Tandy kept the No. 6 Porsche 963 within striking distance of leader and pole winner Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura, who elected to take on new tires during their pit stop. The Penske drivers figured it was their best shot at the win.
“We kind of knew from practice and qualifying that our pace was probably not going to win us a race,” said Tandy. “We wanted to try something different, and one of our options was to try and negate the tire warm-up issue that many teams have had in GTP this year, so we went with no tires. What we didn’t know was how the tire was going to end up over the last 40 minutes because nobody had run the tire that long.”
Co-driver Mathieu Jaminet, who took over for Tandy, took to the lead but ran into lap traffic late in the race to set-up a 2-lap dual with the No. 10, who had Jordan Taylor now behind the wheel.
The Acura drafted the Porsche down Shoreline Drive and drew even under braking into Turn 1, but Taylor misjudged the maneuver and skidded wide into a tire barrier allowing third-place runner Connor de Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 to squeeze past.
The caution flag came out ending the racing with Jaminet and Tandy celebrating a monumental first win for the Porsche 963. De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly celebrating second place in the No. 25 BMW.
“(Taylor) had fresher tires and after I got caught in traffic with two laps to go, it made sense that he went for it,” said Jaminet. “I braked really late, and I saw him going past. I thought, ‘If he can make it stop, I’ll be impressed.’ I saw him lock up and he went straight in the fence.
“I knew it was going to be very close,” he added. “I just tried to make no mistakes with the traffic. As a team, you need to figure out the opportunities and take what’s there when it’s in front of you. Today was a real team effort, in the pits and with car No. 7. Everybody can be proud today.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N, May 12-14 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Chip Ganassi Racing returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June with the newly named Cadillac V-Series.Rs where they will compete for the overall win in the Hypercar class.
Ganassi will field two Caddy’s in the twice around-the-clock endurance event. The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R received an automatic entry based on its full-season participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook are the drivers.
The No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R is a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, where it races as the No. 01. Sébastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon will be the drivers.
“We are all looking forward to Cadillac returning to Le Mans and challenging for the overall victory. It has been decades since an American manufacturer has achieved this and we will be strongly pushing to achieve our goal,” said Bamber, the overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and 2017.
“We are thrilled to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the full Cadillac Racing team,” said Rory Harvey, Global Vice President of Cadillac. “Over the last 20 years Cadillac Racing has built a legacy of winning on the track and we feel very privileged to return to Le Mans during this exciting new electrified era in racing.”
“Cadillac is excited to build on its racing legacy by competing against the very best internationally and at one of the world’s toughest races,” said GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser. “We’re proud to be representing the United States and the Cadillac V-Series.R is a great continuation of our racing heritage.”
Chip Ganassi Racing last competed in the 24-hours of Le Mans in 2018-2019 when they campaigned Ford GT’s in the LMGTE Pro Class. CGR took home the class win in 2016 with Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller taking the checkered flag 50-years after Ford’s first overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victory.
Meyer Shank Wins 2nd Straight Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Meyer Shank Racing kicked off a new era of IMSA racing by winning their second straight Rolex 24 at Daytona, the twice around the clock endurance classic that kicks off the annual Motorsports calendar in the United States.
Tom Blomqvist drove the pole-winning No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-06 to a 4.190-second victory ahead of Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 from Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, to capture the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class win in the first race with hybrid-powered prototypes. It was the second consecutive and third overall Rolex 24 victory for the MSR, which led a race-best 365 of the 783 laps.
“What a car we’ve built and I’m so grateful to be able to drive that and be trusted with the duty to take it to the finish,” said Blomqvist. “Amazing, I was a bit nervous because the (No.) 10 car was definitely the second fastest car when it came down to it. But yeah, we held it off and had to take it to another level to secure this victory. I just have to say, a massive ‘well done’ to everyone who’s been a part of this project.”
Ricky Taylor finished second in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura.
“First of all, it was an amazing job by Acura and HPD for giving us two cars to fight for the win,” said Taylor. “I don’t think it can be overstated how amazing that accomplishment is when considering the likes of Porsche and BMW and the struggles they had. Our cars ran flawlessly. To our team, this accomplishment of consecutive top-two finishes is really unprecedented, especially considering it persists through different car manufacturers and specifications. This is our ninth top two since 2013, and I don’t think any other team in the world has that type of consistency in 24-hour races.”
Chip Ganassi Racing came home in third and fourth with Renger van der Zane brining the No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh home in third place followed by teammate Earl Bamber in the No. 02 Caddy in fourth.
“Yeah, finishing second or third is not what we came for, but hey it’s the first time and we got points for podium to start the season off with Ganassi,” said van der Zande. “At the end of the day, we didn’t have the pace to win, and we didn’t have the speed on the straights to win. It’s time to collect and see where we can improve as a team. I think it’s a tribute to GM and to Dallara and Ganassi to build a car that lasts for 24 hours. I think that is an amazing thing and yeah, congrats to the winners.”
“I think just an all-around good job by Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac to come out and run 24 hours and have both cars on the lead lap, have both cars with potential to be on the podium,” said Bamber. “Missed a little bit of pace to Acura and hate we missed out on the podium, but its good points in the championship. Now we can go on to Sebring and WEC.”
Proton Competition took the victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) category in a photo finish as James Allen eked out the narrowest of victories by just 0.016 seconds over Ben Hanley in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by APR ORECA.
The No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 turned the Le Mans Prototype (LMP3) class race into a 24-hour romp as drivers Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill dominated at Daytona. Most other cars in the class faced mechanical or other issues during the race. The margin of victory for the No. 17 AWA Duqueine over the second-place No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 was a whopping 12 laps.
In the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) Class, Cooper MacNeil co-drove the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the class victory alongside Mercedes factory drivers Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon in MacNeil’s last start as an IMSA WeatherTech SportCar driver.
The next race for the IMSA WeatherTech Sport Car Championship is the 12-Hours of Sebring March 15-18 at Sebring International Raceway.