Cadillac Racing dominates at Long Beach

Cadillac V-Series.Rs go 1-2 for Cadillac’s sixth win on the circuit since 2017

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2024) – Does the expression third time’s a charm applies to motorsports?

Cadillac Racing, which came away with runner-up finishes after earning the pole in the two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship marathon races, capitalized on a third pole start to win the sprint Saturday on the streets of Long Beach.

Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais, driving the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R, held off the sister No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R driven by pole-sitter Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken by 0.564 of a second to secure Cadillac Racing’s sixth victory at Long Beach and 30th overall since joining the IMSA prototype class in 2017.

The victory is the fifth for Bourdais at Long Beach, who teamed with van der Zande to win on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in 2022. Every Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) race winner this season has started from the third spot on the grid.

The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R, which registered its second runner-up finish, has qualified on pole in all three races.

In addition to the race win, leading 60 of the 68 laps and pole position, Cadillac Racing hybrid racecars paced the GTP field in both practice sessions.

“Congratulations to the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R team and drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande for winning the hard-fought race on the streets of Long Beach. It was a strong effort all around with pole sitter Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R earning their second runner-up finish in three races. A great day for Cadillac Racing at Long Beach,” said Mark Stielow, GM director of motorsports competition.

Derani pitted from the lead for the lone time in the 100-minute race with 63 minutes left for energy and left-side tires and gave way to Aitken, who was making his debut on the circuit. Inheriting the lead from Derani, Bourdais brought in the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R a lap later for service and switch to van der Zande. The Chip Ganassi Racing team decided not to change Michelin tires, and van der Zande was able to get the advantage on the out-lap over Aitken. They ran 1-2 the final 48 minutes.

“Our tires were pretty old at the end. I was just hanging on at the end,” said van der Zande, who upped his IMSA victory total to 20 and has won at least one win in each of his 11 seasons. “This team is fantastic. Thanks to Chip, the guys, Mike O’Gara, my teammate Seb … this is how to win races, and I’m enjoying it.”

Bourdais and van der Zande, who teamed with six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon to finish second in the 12-hour race last month at Sebring, moved to 58 points out of the GTP points lead. The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R is third in points.

A Cadillac DPi won five consecutive races at Long Beach through 2022 (no event in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic), including podium sweeps in ‘22 and ’21, to extend GM’s victory streak to seven in the event. A Chevrolet Corvette DP won the 2015 and ’16 races.

Download: Cadillac Racing on-track photos for editorial use

Cadillac Racing will look to successfully defend its victory May 12 in the 2-hour, 40-minute race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca when Bourdais and van der Zande took the victory. Derani and Alexander Sims placed third.

No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R

Sebastien Bourdais: “It’s special. It’s win number five here for me at Long Beach. I’m super happy. We’ve had so many hardships and things just not working out. Our last win was Laguna Seca last year, so it’s been almost a year. I’m super happy for Cadillac, for Chip Ganassi Racing and for the boys. They work so hard and it feels like we deserve more than that a lot of the time. Hopefully this is the start of a new cycle for us. We had an excellent car, so I was a little frustrated that we were not able to get a better lap in during qualifying, but the strategy was perfect during our pit stop. The team did a great job to get us out front and Renger did the rest by holding the 31 off and bringing the car home to victory lane. It sure felt good to get this win for everyone in the shop and everyone from GM.”

Renger van der Zande: “We are very happy right now with the biggest trophy we could get — the first-place trophy. Chip Ganassi racing did a fantastic job again. Leading the race from the halfway point and making the right strategy call. We used only one set of tires and that was key to win this race. Our car has been fast all year so I am thrilled that we were finally able to bring home the win. The team deserves that. Our tires were pretty old at the end. Chip (Ganassi) asked me how were those tires, and I told him not so good. I was just hanging on at the end. This team is a fantastic team. Thanks to Chip, the guys, Mike O’Gara, my teammate Seb… this is how to win races, and I’m enjoying it.”

No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R

Pipo Derani: “If you look overall, this championship comes down to a little at the end. To be our second time on the podium, three pole positions so far… you try to accumulate as much points as you can and carry it all the way to the end. Obviously we would have liked to win, especially starting at the front here. It’s just one of those things here at Long Beach. If the guy behind does the complete opposite to you, he might come out ahead and that’s what happened today. We’re happy that it’s a Cadillac 1-2. We wish it was the other way around but we did the best we could. We’ll take the points and keep pushing forward.”

Jack Aitken: “It was a really tough one because once they have track position on the circuit, like any street circuit, it’s extremely difficult to pass without taking a huge amount of risk. I think the couple of yellows we did have during the second half of the race just helped Renger (van der Zande) take care of those tires and they lasted surprisingly well. Better than I think anybody expected from the start this weekend coming here with the soft. I think we had a great car all weekend. I think we’ve been really, really strong on pace since the start of the season, and it’s a bit frustrating to miss out on a win up to this point. But we had really good points, but at least if we’re going to get beat, at least it’s the other Cadillac. I enjoyed my fight.”

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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