WEC preview: Cadillac seeks to make splash in debut

No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R team takes Prologue momentum into Sebring opening race

SEBRING, Fla. (March 13, 2023) – The next chapter in Cadillac Racing’s dual series of competition will be written this week with the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R making its FIA World Endurance Championship debut in the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

Its sister racecars – the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R – on Saturday will seek to give the iconic brand three consecutive victories in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the second race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

This past weekend’s WEC Prologue, incorporating four free practice sessions totaling more than 12 hours on the 3.741-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway course, was instrumental in the Cadillac Racing team’s preparation for the opening endurance race Friday starting at noon local and the season in general in the electrified Hypercar class.

The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R will compete in all seven rounds of the WEC calendar, including the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, and face 10 Hypercar competitors in the eight-hour kickoff event.

Evaluation, exploration and operational practice – key as there are notable differences in pit stop and race procedures compared to the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship — complemented drivers Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook gaining pace through more than 200 laps on the bumpy circuit that originally was a World War II airbase.

The Cadillac V-Series.R topped the time chart in one session with a best lap of 1 minute, 48.429 seconds and was near the top in the others with no down time in its initial outing in WEC spec.

“It’s been a really positive two days. It’s a whole new program, the WEC, and it feels like it. But what a start we’ve made and there is so much more to come,” Westbrook said. “The whole team is just going to get stronger and stronger and I think everyone is excited. The Cadillac is really strong, but we knew that from Daytona, so we have a nice base to work with. There’s a lot to be positive about going into the race week.”

Bamber and Lynn co-drove a Cadillac DPi-V.R to victory in the 2022 Twelve Hours of Sebring to lead a Cadillac sweep of the podium. Lynn is a two-time overall winner (2017, 2022) in a Cadillac DPi-V.R and Bamber has an overall and class win in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Westbrook co-drove a Cadillac DPI-V.R to the runner-up finish last March.

“I think we have a talented crew and we’re looking forward to going racing,” team manager and strategist Stephen Mitas said.

The 1000 Miles of Sebring will mark the second race for the trio in the new Cadillac V-Series.R powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 normally aspirated engine developed by GM’s Performance and Racing propulsion team paired with the spec energy recovery system. They co-drove to fourth place in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

“Testing is limited so going to Daytona is a good way in race conditions to get the team and drivers aligned and prepared for the WEC season,” Mitas said. “The more experience you get, particularly with a new team, is only going to benefit you and reduce your learning curve.”

The first of three free practice sessions will be held Wednesday morning. The 1000 Miles of Sebring is scheduled for noon ET/5 p.m. CET Friday. The 15-minute qualifying session is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET Thursday (12:30 a.m. CET Friday).

The race will air live on MotorTrend with streaming coverage of the race and qualifying on the MotorTrend app. Radio Le Mans will broadcast the race, qualifying and all practice sessions.

See the exciting Cadillac V-Series lineup

Spectators can view the Cadillac V-Series performance vehicle lineup at the Cadillac display in the midway, including the Escalade-V, CT5-V Blackwing and the CT4-V Blackwing. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.

The CT5-V Blackwing is a Car and Driver 10Best again for 2023: “…the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is the greatest sports sedan on sale today, if not of all time.”

Additionally, the 2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Sebring IMSA Track Edition, with a special matte black paint in honor of the 12-hour race and a symbol of racing in the dark, will be on display in the Cadillac Corral.

Spectators will also have the opportunity to participate in a Cadillac ride and drive program Thursday-Saturday with the exciting performance vehicle lineup at the track.

What the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R drivers are saying

“It’s great to back at Sebring, where Cadillac has had a lot of success including our win last year. Now we’re here with a different challenge with a new Cadillac V-Series.R and looking forward to it. The Prologue went well. We were at or near the top of the chart every session – doing long runs, learning the tires and getting in full race preparation mode because there are short practice sessions when we roll back out Wednesday and it’s right into the race. Brand new team in terms of we did Daytona but now this a WEC team with a European-based crew, so we’re all learning. Looking forward to the race.”

— Earl Bamber

“I think we’ve built a great car. Us joining the World Endurance Championship is a different form of racing and something we have to adapt to and we’re learning a lot every day. We’ve been building up for this moment for a while and I’m impressed with how things are going. From my side I’m extremely excited to come back to a track where I’ve had loads of success. The personnel we’ve put together are extremely talented and we have to keep building. The car has been reliable and quick, which are the two main ingredients and that’s what gets everyone excited. I think we have a really talented driver crew, a fast car and those are the two bits that are hard to get. Once you’ve got that, the rest comes naturally.”

— Alex Lynn

“Really looking forward to Sebring to kick off a whole new era in sports car racing, particularly for the Cadillac entry into the world championship. This will be a slightly shorter race than I’m used to, but different now with the new Hypercar contingent. It will be fascinating, not just for us, but for the fans. I think everyone is really excited to see how that competition shakes out. Obviously, after Daytona, we have a lot of confidence in our car reliability-wise, but we have no idea how we will fare on pace. We have a little understanding how we compare with Porsche, but it’s going into the big unknown with the Hypercars. We’re all so excited and can’t wait to kick this season off.”

— Richard Westbrook

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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