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Cadillac will have six DPi-V.R prototype race cars being fielded by four teams for the season opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona to run this weekend, January 24-27.

After turning maximum laps at the Roar test three weeks ago and getting all 22 Cadillac drivers cycled through for seat time the four teams comprised of six entries will unload with the goal of winning the “Super Bowl” of the IMSA series as well as give Cadillac a third consecutive Rolex 24-hour victory. Wayne Taylor Racing and the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R ushered in the inaugural year of the DPi cars with the Rolex win in 2017. That was followed up last year by the Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R victory. This year new comers to the Cadillac Racing family Juncos Racing and JDC/Miller give the brand three more chances at the top step of the coveted Daytona podium.

Team owner Wayne Taylor has assembled an impressive driver line-up to support season regulars Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande. Formula 1 and Le Mans winning Fernando Alonso along with his WEC teammate Kamui Kobayashi come to Daytona to help the team get the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R to the finish line first on Sunday afternoon.

“It was an interesting Roar test, my personal thing was to get used to the Michelin tires and I think they are very easy to adjust to,” Van Der Zande said. “I was happy to see the average pace between all of our drivers. We’ve done some fine-tuning with various things since the test, and we have work to do like everybody else when practice starts this week. But, overall I’m excited about our chances. We have Fernando Alonso – he’s a legend. You can feel that in everything he does. Heading to Daytona with him, and also with Kamui as a teammate – two ex-Formula One stars – I think is very special.”

The Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R team led by Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa for the season are joined by Mike Conway and Christian Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi will count the Rolex 24 as his last race behind the wheel.

“This race is similar to Le Mans in some ways, but different in others,” Conway said. “For me, it’s great to start the year with a 24-hour, high-level race under your belt. It starts my season off well and gets me into the endurance rhythm. It’s my third time here and I enjoy more every time. Every year, I’ve been up front with a chance to win and to be able to continue with Action Express is great. The fans here are great, you’re always interacting with them, which is also similar to Le Mans. So is the atmosphere, though the setting is different. They have their own histories and feel about them. But they’re just as hard! You always feel like you have a chance to win here, with the way the safety cars and yellow flags work. In Europe, it’s a bit different. If you have a bad start, it’s hard to recover. You have to keep your spirit high here because you can always have the chance to be there at the end.”

Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R are joined by Eric Curran in their effort to back up the team’s 2018 IMSA WeatherTech championship with a win at the twice-around-the-clock classic.

“This will be my fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona and it’s time to get another watch,” Derani said. “I’ll use the experience from those years to help me achieve that. My goal is to win the championship as well – I’ve won the big races and I want to win them again, but being with the team that just won the championship gives me extra motivation to go after the title. If that means being more conservative, we’ll do it, and if we need to go flat-out, we’ll do that. Experience, and being with a great team and great drivers, means I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Juncos Racing brings their open-wheel lineage to IMSA for 2019. Will Owen is joined by Kyle Kaiser, Rene Binder and Agustin Canapino in the No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Owen, for now, is the only driver nominated by team owner Ricardo Juncos for the IMSA season.

“I’m very excited the race is almost here,” Kaiser said. “We’ve all been working vigorously after the Roar and I really feel like we’re ready to go. We have had great team chemistry since we started, so I know we’ll all be having fun and racing hard to go the full 24 hours.”

JCD/Miller have their two Cadillac DPi-V.R race cars ready to go. In the No. 84 Cadillac DPi-V.R Stephen Simpson and Simon Trummer, season regulars, are supported by Chris Miller and Juan Piedrahita for the 24.

“I am very excited to get the 2019 IMSA season underway,” Simpson said. “We had some success last year winning our first race overall and we plan on building on that success. Driving the Cadillac this year is exciting, it has been the car to beat over the past few seasons and it has won the Rolex 24 in recent years as well, so going into Daytona we know we have a strong car. Our JDC/Miller Motorsports guys have been doing a fantastic job over the past few months getting the cars ready. John Church and the entire team have been working long hours and I’m confident it will pay off. The Rolex 24 is always a tough race and this year I think it will be extra tough because of the fierce competition. We saw at the Roar test how every team has improved so I’m expecting a 24-hour sprint race where small mistakes could take you out of contention”

In the No. 85 JDC Miller Cadillac DPi-V.R Tristan Vautier and Misha Goikhberg, full season, are joined by F1’s Rubens Barrichello and Devlin DeFrancesco in the second yellow entry for team owner John Church.

“We’re starting with the toughest and longest race of the year as every season in IMSA and that challenge is always exciting,” Vautier said. “As a new Cadillac team, we’re still on a learning curve with the car, but we believe we’ve learned some valuable things from the Roar test and are confident we’ll show up at the race having made a good step forward. For me, so far, it’s been amazing being back with the JDC/Miller team which is family to me. We have a great mix of youth and experience in the line-up and we all get along really well, so that’s super encouraging for the race. Now we have to focus on our execution throughout the whole weekend and start the season strong. I’m looking forward to it.”

The Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona will take the green flag at 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 26. Qualifying will take place on Thursday, January 24 at 4:25 p.m.

Source Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing


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