Cadillac at Le Mans: Triple threat for overall victory

Three V-Series.R Hypercars ready to compete in 91st edition of endurance classic

DETROIT (May 31, 2023) – After a 21-year hiatus, Cadillac returns to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with ambitions to fulfill.

It will be a homecoming of sorts; the Cadillac Motor Car Co. name was derived from the French explorer who founded Detroit in 1701. Cadillac first competed in the iconic endurance race in 1950. Five decades passed until the American luxury brand again appeared at Circuit de la Sarthe with prototype challengers in 2000-2002.

Following 2004-2017 championship campaigns in GT racing and the 2017-2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi era, Cadillac Racing remains at the forefront of sports car racing with the new Cadillac V-Series.R hybrid racecar that competes in IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The 91st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the fourth race of the WEC season — will take place on the 100th anniversary of the first race on the outskirts of the city in Northwest France.

“Competing for the overall win at Le Mans with an iconic American brand like Cadillac is an honor,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “The entire team is excited to continue building Cadillac’s racing legacy by competing against the very best internationally and in the world’s toughest race. I think we’re bringing America pretty loud and strong with our Cadillac, and we’re proud of that.”

Nine drivers of the three impressive Cadillac V-Series.Rs will aim to grab the overall victory in the 16-car Hypercar class on the 8.47-mile (13.629 kilometers) course that includes public roads. Cadillac is paying homage to its first venture to Le Mans with the same car numbers 2 and 3 as 1950, along with No. 311.

The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R co-driven by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook is the full-season FIA WEC entry. Through three races, the Chip Ganassi Racing-run team is a respectable fourth in the championship standings. The trio of drivers recently were joined by Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon, co-drivers with Sebastien Bourdais of the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R, for an endurance and performance test at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal.

Both the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R and No. 311 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R, co-driven by Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken, already have won races this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“The team has put in a lot of work and focus on Le Mans, so we know we will have a good and reliable car,” said Westbrook, who earned an overall podium finish in 2022 at Le Mans. “Then it comes down to us executing and keeping everything clean and run max attack for 24 hours. If you do that, there is a good chance you’re going to get podium or something better.”

On-track activity begins Sunday, June 4, with two test sessions totaling six hours.

The Cadillac V-Series.R features an all-new Cadillac 5.5-liter DOHC V8 engine developed by GM’s Performance and Racing propulsion team based in Pontiac, Michigan. Cadillac is the sole GTP manufacturer with a naturally aspirated engine.

The last time

Some world events in June 2002 – the last time Cadillac Racing competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans:

  • Ronaldo scores twice as Brazil defeats Germany 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan, for its record fifth title.
  • Serena Williams wins her first French Open tennis title, defeating older sister Venus Williams 7-5, 6-3.
  • Albert Costa defeats Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 to win the French Open –his lone major title.
  • The Glastonbury Festival in England opens with Coldplay and Rod Stewart as headliners.
  • The first direct electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans is carried out by Kevin Warwick in the United Kingdom.
  • Los Angeles Lakers beat New Jersey Nets for a 4-0 sweep and third consecutive NBA title. Shaquille O’Neal is the Finals MVP for the third year in a row.
  • Detroit Red Wings beat Carolina Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup for the 10th time. Coach Scotty Bowman retires with record ninth title.
  • Asteroid 2002 MN missed the Earth by 75,000 miles (120,000 km), about one-third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
  • Canadian singer Avril Lavigne releases debut album, “Let Go.”

What they’re saying

No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R

Earl Bamber: “It’s exciting to see the talent we have at Cadillac Racing and I’m looking forward to going to Le Mans. It’s going to be tough, but we’re definitely closing the gap to Toyota and Ferrari step by step and the endurance and performance testing we have done has been important. You have to run a clean race and have good pit stops at Le Mans to have a chance at victory. I said it at Daytona that if that car was at Le Mans, it would have won because we had a clean race and a quick car. That’s what we need to repeat when we go to Le Mans, and I think this group is building towards it.”

Alex Lynn: “Winning Le Mans takes perfection. It takes everything to go right. I’ve been lucky enough to do it in GT Pro with Aston Martin and I can honestly say it takes perfection to win that race because you’ll be the car that takes all the risk, doesn’t break down and the drivers are all on perfect form to win. The one that does win has all those ingredients go correctly. From our side, it’s a difficult race to win but the most rewarding. We’ll arrive with confidence in our car and team.”

Richard Westbrook: “Everything has to be clean and perfect at Le Mans, especially this year. A lot of new machinery out there and it’s a big ask for a lot of manufacturers. The Cadillac has been really reliable so that gives us a lot of confidence. The team has put in a lot of work and focus on Le Mans, so we know we will have a good and reliable car. Then it comes down to us executing and keeping everything clean and run max attack for 24 hours. If you do that, there is a good chance you’re going to get podium or something better. I think the main thing at Le Mans if you are a couple of tenths (of a second) off, say the Toyota or Ferrari, you at least put pressure on them because Le Mans is all about pressure. You keep people under pressure, they can make mistakes. We’ll be going there full of confidence and knowing we have a good car.”

No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R

Renger van der Zande: “It’s a special race. It’s the most famous classic race in the world and that’s what we’re aiming to win. I think Cadillac is a super American brand. I’ve been racing in America for 10 years and most of my time with Cadillac, so going with my American racing family as I call them to go for the Le Mans overall victory is something special. A lot of people from Holland will be watching us fight for the overall win, and that would be special. It will be a busy week, tense and exciting. We’ll be having tire warmers now for Le Mans, so it’s also a little different from what we’re used to racing the whole season (in IMSA). We’ll have to learn a lot in a short period of time.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “To drive for a manufacturer like Cadillac and going back to Le Mans to try to win the overall is a great honor. I’ve had the chance to do that a few times in my career and there is nothing like going for the Le Mans overall victory. Being from Le Mans, it’s very busy trying to handle all the requests from the media, but it will make it even more special if it’s a great day. It will be the first time in some time that I’m not rushing to get there and rushing to get back (to North America) for an IndyCar race or whatever. I think the last time that happened was 2011, so that will help me focus more on the event and optimizing the result.”

Scott Dixon: “I’m excited to go back to Le Mans. It’s been a few years and my first time to go in the premier class. Competing with the Hypercar brings a totally different level to it. It’s a difficult race and having the opportunity to win with the Cadillac LMDh is very special.”

No. 311 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R

Jack Aitken: “I think some of the biggest challenges of Le Mans are off the track because it’s obviously a huge event and there is a lot of pomp and circumstance with scrutineering the car in town, the driver parade and it’s a very long week. Managing your energy levels through the week is a bit of a fine art, I believe. I have full faith on the engineering side that we’ll get up to speed quickly. That’s not going to be a problem. It’s going to be more the intricacies of Le Mans itself.”

Pipo Derani: “A lot of resilience it takes to win that race. It’s a whole new game, especially coming with Action Express for the very first time. The good thing is as a team we’ve been operating together for a long time. At the same time, we’re going into a new environment with new regulations and new set of rules. It will be an extra challenge for us as a team, but it’s fantastic. It’s one of those races you look forward to and it’s special to be a part of it. I’m very much looking forward to being there with the team that I’ve achieved most of my best results in America and try to win with them at Le Mans. It will be a great challenge, but a great opportunity to be present in the centenary edition of the race. We will do our best to lead Cadillac to a good result on its return to Le Mans.”

Alexander Sims: “It’s such a momentous occasion and not really comparable with any race you do. The track is fun to drive and it will be a learning curve for us in these cars. Hopefully, we can use the test day to get up to speed from a car performance point of view. I think the benefit we have going there for the first time is it’s the first time with these cars for everyone. In some ways, we’re on a level playing field and it’s who can get up to speed as quick as possible. The team has been preparing for this race for a long time already, so they’ll do a good job. We’ll give it our best shot.”

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


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