Sebring notes: Cadillac takes aim at another first

No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R team seeks to continue brand’s success in debut in new series

SEBRING, Fla. (March 15, 2023) — The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R co-driven by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook look to extend Cadillac’s success in its inaugural race in a new series Friday in the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

The trio, after completing a successful Prologue last weekend on the 3.741-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway circuit, combined to turn 46 laps in two free practice Hypercar sessions in preparation for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening race.

Max Angelelli has the distinction of winning in Cadillac’s debut in the Speed World Challenge GT class in 2004 at Sebring International Raceway and in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s DPi class in the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“What a coincidence,” said Angelelli, who won the 2004 race from the pole in the No. 16 Cadillac CTS-V. He teamed with Jeff Gordon, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor in driving the No. 10 Cadillac prototype to the victory at Daytona International Speedway in 2017 in the opening race of the DPi era.

“Both wins were unique, and both were the beginning of something big and something that is still going and growing a lot,” Angelelli said. “They were programs that became extremely successful – the World Challenge and then the DPi. I’ve been very fortunate.

“2004 was kind of I almost couldn’t believe it. We worked a lot in 2003 testing and everything and the car was just so perfect and was so great for Cadillac coming back after the Le Mans experience that didn’t bring the results everybody wanted. Then, P1 and win the first race. And in 2017, I remember the day before I was worrying about failures during the race, and nothing happened. We won the race and that was major as well.”

Angelelli also won from the pole at Road Atlanta in 2004. Cadillac earned the Manufacturer Championship in 2005 and ’07, and Andy Pilgrim won the Driver Championship in 2005.

“We have to applaud the Cadillac effort as a group,” Angelelli said. “I was just one piece of this enormous program. It was a real team effort, a real team win. My time with Cadillac goes back to 1999 and in a different position now I’m still involved, representing the constructor (Dallara). It’s been more than 20 years enjoying working with General Motors and Cadillac.”

Cadillac team learning the ropes

The 15-minute Hypercar qualifying session starts at 7:20 p.m. ET Thursday, with the race taking the green flag at noon Friday.

“To win this race, you have to have no mistakes, and that means pit road, no penalties, no issues in traffic,” said Bamber, who teamed with Lynn and Neel Jani to win the 2022 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the No. 02 Cadillac DPi-V.R. “And then second of all strategy. It’s going to be a different race for everyone with the new safety car and full-course yellow rules. And then the heat is going to be a big one. For us drivers to manage a double stint in the heat is going to be really challenging. We’ve worked on that as well at Cadillac Racing.

“With such big competition now between so many factory teams, a podium would feel like a win for our first time out against all the other new LMDh and LMH cars. We’ll make some really good calls, maybe we’ll make some bad calls, but that’s part of the whole learning process coming into the WEC.”

IMSA teams prep for first session

The No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R and No 31 Whelen Engineering V-Series.R will move onto the course at 10:10 a.m. ET Thursday for the first of three practice sessions preceding qualifications at 10:05 a.m. Friday.

Cadillac, which has won the Twelve Hours of Sebring the past two years and four of the past six, participated in an IMSA-sanctioned test at the track last month with both cars.

Cadillac swept the podium in the 2022, 2019 and 2017. Last March, Sebastien Bourdais set the qualifying lap record of 1 minute, 45.166 seconds in the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R. A Cadillac has started from pole in the prototype class in 2022, 2021, 2018.

Pipo Derani, co-driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R, is among five drivers (and youngest) with three wins in the Twelve Hours of Sebring (2016, 2018, 2019), joining the likes of Phil Hill and Mario Andretti.

Celebrating the anniversary of the V-Series

Cadillac is kicking off a year-long celebration of the V-Series performance sub-brand that was launched at Sebring International Raceway in March 2004. It is now the Official Luxury Vehicle of the iconic racecourse.

“Cadillac made a bold move with V-Series that continues to resonate,” said Global Vice President of Cadillac Rory Harvey. “From the racetrack to the road, V-Series has transformed Cadillac and helped redefine performance luxury for thousands of enthusiasts. Over the next 12 months we will celebrate V-Series with a number of significant moments.”

The inaugural production V-Series — the 2004 CTS-V — was developed on the racetrack and previewed on Germany’s famed Nürburgring circuit. It was the first of 13 V-Series sedan, coupe, roadster and SUV models to follow. The current lineup includes the CT4-V and twin-turbocharged CT4-V Blackwing, the CT5-V and the supercharged CT5-V Blackwing, and the supercharged Escalade-V. They will be on display in the Cadillac exhibit in the midway starting Thursday.

Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing to pace the race

The Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, the high-performance sedan with a 6.2-liter hand-built supercharged V8 engine producing 668 horsepower and capable of reaching 200 mph on track, will serve as the official pace car and safety vehicle for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

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.”

Driving home the Sebring relationship

The Cadillac-Sebring International Raceway connection will also be on display this weekend with the 2023 CT4-V Blackwing Sebring IMSA Track Edition.

The track-capable car features a special matte black paint scheme in honor of the 12-hour race and a symbol of racing in the dark and other eye-catching details that are nods to the iconic racetrack. Spectators can view the limited-edition vehicle in the Cadillac Corral.

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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