WEC - Bahrain, the ideal playground for the Cadillac V-Series.R?
Yes, the first season of competition for the V-Series.R is already drawing to a close. Sixteen months after Earl Bamber took his first laps behind the wheel of the American car, the only one in the Hypercar category with a naturally-aspirated engine. Did it live up to expectations?
“The first year of the program has been fantastic,” team manager Stephen Mitas said. “When you look at the results, particularly at Le Mans, we could only be happy with it. There have been some challenges along the way and some lessons learned, but we are targeting to finish strong in Bahrain. The beginning of next year is all about taking our lessons learned and turning that into positive action for the team and on-track with the car.”
However, after four consecutive top-five finishes, including third place at Le Mans, the V-Series.R has clearly fallen back into the ranks, with two tenth-place finishes at Monza and Fuji. But with only one car on the track compared to the competition's two, the mission is a tough one.
“I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain,” Earl Bamber said. “We’ve definitely had our ups and downs. The highlight of the year, so far, has been the third place at Le Mans, though we’ve shown at every race this year that we have the potential to be on the podium. Now looking to Bahrain, I think our Cadillac LMDh will really suit the circuit and we shoot for the podium like we always do.”
But why would this circuit suit the Cadillac so well? “It’s always difficult to know whether your car is going to suit a particular track because every track we’ve been on this year has been new for our car,” Richard Westbrook replied. “But I really do feel Bahrain will be good for the Cadillac. It’s lots of slow speed corners which require good traction. That’s a strong point of the car. It’s very hard on the tires, which is a strong point with how kind the Cadillac is on the Michelin tires. There is reason to be optimistic. We’ve had an up and down year – probably more up than down – but the last couple of results have been tough. We’re looking to get back on track to where we were at the beginning of the year and come away with a strong finish like we did at Le Mans.”
The Brit is right. On paper, this track should be a playground that suits the American car and the Toyota GR010 Hybrid, which are certainly the two cars that have shown themselves to be the softest on tires so far. The Porsche 963 and the Ferrari 499P, on the other hand, could have more trouble.
In addition to all these positive elements distilled from the drivers, the Cadillac, like the Porsche 963, has received a little help from the BoP Platform, which has lowered their minimum weight by 7kg compared to what was announced after the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A change from BoP that's nothing to be ashamed of, given what we've seen over the last few rounds.
And what if, in the end, it was the V-Series.R that became the first car under the LMDh regulations to win a WEC race? To even have a chance of doing so, Stephen Mitas' team will have to put in a perfect performance. Because, once again, they won't have the advantage of numbers.