Konica Minolta Cadillac drivers Van Der Zande and Briscoe lead points
Mustang Sampling Cadillac drivers Bourdais and Barbosa second in points
Nasr and Derani joined by Albuquerque
Matheus Leist back in JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship had to pivot away from the traditional six-hour race at Watkins Glen International Raceway due to COVID-19 restrictions in New York state. The series will run the first of two events at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta this weekend, with the second being the traditional Petit Le Mans race to run October 17.
Konica Minolta Cadillac drivers Renger Van Der Zande and Ryan Briscoe come into the weekend leading the IMSA Dpi Championship points. Mustang Sampling Cadillac drivers Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais are second, just six points out.
“The long-distance races are good for our team,” Van Der Zande said. “The Wayne Taylor guys can plan the strategy and work through our plan over the course of six hours. We, as drivers, just have to keep the car clean and run good fast laps. We’ve been not so strong on the shorter events, with the BoP [balance of performance], so the longer the better for our situation. We may need some chaos or rain to be in a position to win.
“We are running with just two drivers, it would have been nice to have Scott Dixon with us, as he is winning everything. It is a two-day event with very little practice. Ryan and I are very fit and able to run the race. The heat will play a role. We have traditionally not been that fast in the heat. The team has been working on that with the set-up and I think we should be better. We are understanding the tires better every race and that will be important on Saturday.”
The duo of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani will be joined by Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend. Albuquerque is coming off of a win at the European Le Mans Series round at Paul Ricard.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend at Road Atlanta,” Nasr said. “It’s a place I really enjoy driving. It’s pretty unique – combination of corners and pretty fast at the same time. It’s always eye-catching to be driving the Esses at Road Atlanta. It’s nice to be bringing the momentum from the last two races, with a race win and a podium finish. We have two in the pocket. But, we still expect to win. The whole Action Express team and crew will be doing their best to get the top spot.
“Having won the race last year [Petit Le Mans], and also scored the pole position as well, I think we’ve got a pretty good baseline at Road Atlanta,” Nasr said. “I really enjoy driving that track. We will also have [Filipe] Albuquerque joining us this weekend. This will be a great addition to the team. He’s a very experienced driver. The Last time he was with us was earlier this year at Daytona. I would expect that he would be up to speed very quickly and helping us put the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R up front. The same for Pipo. It’s a great trio of drivers we have. I’m glad to be part of this team and I’m sure we’ll be doing all we can to bring home another victory.”
Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais welcome JDC-Miller teammate Tristan Vautier over to the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R at Road Atlanta. The team is looking to get back to their podium streak this weekend.
“This will be my first time driving the Cadillac DPi-V.R at Road Atlanta,” Bourdais said. “The track is very rhythmic and short. We will need a well-balanced car that brakes really well going into the chicane. Tire degradation has also not been great for us lately and we will need a car that takes care of those Michelins. We are bringing Tristan over to our car this weekend as we think it will be hot in Georgia, plus Tristan knows the car well, and he’s fast and reliable.”
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsport Cadillac DPi-V.R will have Stephen Simpson running with Matheus Leist who drove with the team at Daytona in February.
“I am excited to be sharing the car with Matheus, I have only heard good things about him and am confident we will make a strong team,” Simpson said. “The heat will play a big part in the race. Sebring six weeks ago was tough mainly because of the heat and this time the race is three-times longer, so it will be physical. The heat will also have an effect on performance and specifically tire performance so this is something we will be preparing for.
“Road Atlanta is demanding, all areas are important, but especially Turn 7 and making sure we get good drive out of the corner and down the long back straight. Most of the overtaking will happen going into the chicane. Turn 1 and Turn 5 will also be notably important.”
Cadillac IMSA TireRack.com Grand Prix Driver Line-up:
No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, Renger Van Der Zande and Ryan Briscoe
No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Joao Barbosa, Sebastian Bourdais and Tristan Vautier
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, and Filipe Albuquerque
No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R, Stephen Simpson and Matheus Leist
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince/Cadillac