Cadillac V-Performance Racing teams Mustang Sampling Cadillac, Whelen Engineering Cadillac and Konica Minolta Cadillac head to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race with momentum from January’s Rolex 24 win.
– Mustang Sampling Cadillac looks to win 36 hours of Florida
– Konica Minolta Cadillac wants to get back on the podium
– Cadillac teams swept the podium at Sebring in 2017
– Cadillac DPi-V.R receives additional 10kg (22 lbs.) of BOP weight for Sebring
With the Rolex 24 celebration complete, the positive feelings of winning North America’s biggest sports car race, the Mustang Sampling Cadillac team is poised to keep that winning feeling by going for the top step of the podium at Sebring this week and win the 36 hours of Florida. Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi had a successful test behind the wheel of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R and like their chances heading into the weekend.
“The test went really well and we checked a lot of the boxes off on things we planned to do at the test,” Barbosa said. “Racing-wise, we are ready. The test gave us all a lot of laps and so we were comfortable with how we were with the car. It is a tough race and the track is very challenging. For the drivers, it is very physical, and for the car, it goes through a lot every lap with the bumps and so mechanically it is hard on them. The track is unlike any other, with the bumps in Turn 1 and 17, especially 17! I like that challenge a lot and hopefully they will never repave that track! It is a cool characteristic and it has a lot of personality, it challenges the drives every time.”
“It will be a great race, we know we have the tools to win, but the respect for the others because they are very strong too,” Albuquerque said. “We just need to focus on doing our best with what we have, and if we can get the maximum out of that, we should be very competitive. The last two years we finished third and then second so it makes total sense to make the last step this year. The test went pretty good. We were happy about the set-up changes and all the drivers of Mustang Sampling car wanted the same. Everyone was very close, a little bit of what we saw in qualifying at Daytona. For sure it will be another hard race.”
The Whelen Engineering Cadillac team with Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway are hungry to win one of the series long distance races. Coming to the finish line at the Rolex 24 in second, made the driving trio hungry for a win in one of coveted IMSA’s distance races.
“The Sebring test went pretty well!” said Nasr. “Sebring is always a fun and challenging track to drive, but most importantly during the test we worked to understand how the car reacts to changes because a well set-up car here can make a big difference, especially over the bumps. From what I saw from the test, it’s seems like the field is pretty close once more. Sebring is a tough track, but I feel confident in our package as a team to fight them, as long as we can keep running our cars trouble free.”
“It is pretty exciting for Action Express as a team to be 1-2 in the Endurance Cup as well as in the (IMSA WeatherTech) standings,” said Curran. “Obviously we’d like the Whelen machine to be on top of the standings and the goal is for this team to be 1-2 the whole year. I feel like this is a really strong program with our guys, the car prep has been awesome and this is a great driver line up to be a part of. The very first race that I drove for Sonny (Whelen) was Sebring, and in the first race of the weekend we had an oil filter fail and it caught fire-nearly burned to the ground. But the team worked all night long and we came back and won the race the next day. It was just incredible and that was an amazing way to start with Whelen.”
The 3.2-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway was the site of an all Cadillac podium sweep with the Konica Minolta Cadillac team taking the win in 2017. The Wayne Taylor led team will be looking to get back to victory lane this weekend after withdrawing early from the Rolex 24-hour race with tire concerns. The test, held three weeks ago, at Sebring helped to put those worries out of their minds and they had the opportunity to focus on race weekend set-up. Drivers Jordan Taylor, Renger Van Der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay are looking to repeat their win from 2017 at Sebring.
“Daytona left a bad taste in our mouths,” Taylor said. “We had the car to beat that weekend. To have our chances taken away to battle for the victory by something out of our control was extremely frustrating. But I think it motivates us all that much more. Nothing in this sport is given to you, so we can’t live in the past, there’s no point to keep talking about it. We just move forward and focus on the next race. With that in mind, I thought we had a great test at Sebring. Usually when you go to a test day, you have a lot of items to evaluate on the car. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. This was the first test where I felt like we made progress with every change we made. I was really excited by the end of the test with the Cadillac we were leaving with. As long as conditions are similar for the 12-hour, I’m very confident in what we’re coming back with.”
“Sebring is a special one,” Van Der Zande said. “I think it’s one of the coolest tracks we go to because of the bumps and, from a pure racing style, it’s one of the hardest tracks. That’s why 12 hours at Sebring is like a 24-hour race at any other track because it’s so hard on the car. The car is bottoming out and slamming on the floor, the dampers are constantly working because of the bumps and the engines are getting tested. Altogether, also for the driver, it’s really difficult to survive and it’s going to be hot there because it’s Florida. It’s one of the coolest tracks, also, because of the fans. There are so many fans around, on the grid you will see so many people, and that makes it a very special sportscar vibe.
“We had a good test at Sebring, there were a lot of things to find out about the new tire. We got a new compound and a different structure to the tire, which made us try to figure out the balance of the Cadillac again. We went forward a lot, we found a lot of different settings on the car that will help us. The other thing is, you are racing in the day and in the night, and at Sebring that makes a big difference, especially because of temperature change.”
The Spirit of Daytona team of Matt McMurry, Tristan Vautier and Eddie Cheever III also had an early exit from the Rolex 24. The newest team to the Cadillac family is still very excited with their Cadillac DPi-V.R and the speed they showed at Daytona should translate well to Sebring giving the team high expectations for a good result come Saturday night.
“We were there for the IMSA test last month and that went really well, so we will go down there with some fresh information to work with,” McMurry said. “Sebring can be really tricky set-up wise because the track changes so much during the day with the temperatures. Driving the Cadillac is really cool-I’ve driven a prototype at Sebring, but never a DPi. Turns 1 and 17 are just awesome in this car. Coming from a GTD car last year to a prototype, it’s a big change, but I’m really enjoying it.”
“There were a lot of really good take-aways from Daytona – we qualified well, led the race, the team performed great and all the drivers were able to work really well together and hopefully we can just continue that at Sebring,” Vautier said. “For our first race together as a team, with a new car, that was big. We will just keep focused on doing our jobs and hopefully that will get us to the front again. To be honest, I’m having a blast in this Cadillac and I’m enjoying the full potential of the car. Sebring has fast and medium speed corners where these cars excel, so its great for me. We were good on the bumps, so I hope we can unload with a car that is strong and keep building our season.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing