Cadillac posts solid result in WEC opener in Qatar

2 Mar. 2024 • 21:25
No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R finishes fourth after early setback in the Qatar 1812 Km.

Following a setback at the start of the season-opening FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R team recovered to finish fourth Saturday in the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km.


Deft driving, quick pit stops, and solid strategy contributed to the hybrid Cadillac beginning its second WEC season with a pocketful of positives, including knowledge that its LMDh platform will be a consistent contender in the highly competitive class over the eight-race calendar.


The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R, which finished ahead of the Toyota and Ferrari entries that combined to win the seven races in 2023, topped the time sheet in one of the three free practices and was the lone Hypercar entry in the top four of each session leading into qualifications.


“We worked hard in the offseason and there were a lot of gains on both the GM side and the Chip Ganassi Racing team,” said Mark Stielow, GM director of motorsports engineering competition. “It’s our second year together and already we can see a cohesive team effort. It’s not the result we hope for, but the car is showing promise, good speed and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. I think we have a good package.”


The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R qualified fifth and placed fourth at Sebring International Raceway in its 2023 WEC debut race.


Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Sebastien Bourdais maximized opportunities against 18 Hypercar competitors and 18 LMGTE entries throughout the 10-hour race on the 5.148-kilometer (3.37-mile), 16-turn Lusail International Circuit after contact in Turn 1 of Lap 1 dropped the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R from its starting spot of seventh to 15th.


The incident necessitated a nose assembly change on the Lap 33 first pit stop. Lynn was able to pick up the pace in his next stint, matching the lead pack in lap times, despite a damaged wing assembly that was swapped out on the ensuing service stop on Lap 67.


Lynn kept the Cadillac in the top five as the sun faded over the peninsula, with Bourdais then getting four fresh Michelins and full energy replacement on Lap 269. The four-time IndyCar champion made the final service stop on Lap 302 and closed out the 335-lap race under the bright lights.


The No. 6 Porsche, which qualified fifth, won the race briefly slowed by a single full-course yellow.


Lynn recorded a lap of 1:40.103 – the fastest for the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R for the event -- in the 10-minute Hyperpole qualifying session for 10 cars that transferred from the 12-minute first stage of qualifying.


The next race is April 21 at the Imola Circuit in Italy in the WEC’s first visit since 2011 by its precursor – the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Bourdais and Anthony Davidson won the six-hour race, and Bourdais holds the 4.909 km circuit LMP1 race lap record of 1:33.112.


Sebastien Bourdais: We found ourselves in a hole at the beginning and we played the long game. That was really the plan going into the race. We stuck to the plan and soon we saw that guys were getting away from the 10-stint strategy. And we said if we can stick with it then that could be a really good result, and that’s exactly what happened. Really happy for the team and I had a lot of fun in the car. It’s a cool place to drive and a fun race. (Up next for Bourdais is IMSA race at Sebring): “We have a couple of overdos, so hopefully we can finally put some strong points on the board and get the team the result it deserves.”


Alex Lynn: "The start was chaotic. We knew we had good pace in the car this weekend. Considering first race of the year and the way the race started, I think we’ll definitely take the result. It’s our best since Le Mans last year, so pretty good way to start the season."


Earl Bamber: “To start the season here with a fourth place is sort of where we kicked off last season. I think it gives us great momentum. The team did an amazing job and on the strategy they did a solid job to pull us all the way back up. If you would have said at the beginning of the day that we would get a fourth place, I think we would have taken that comfortably. It’s something that we can build on going to Imola and Spa and the rest of the season.”


Log in to comment the article