Cadillac Racing is at the Daytona International Speedway for the traditional IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Roar Before the 24 weekend, Jan. 22-24.
Cadillac Test Notes:
Kobayashi fastest first day
Cadillac going for fifth straight Rolex 24 overall win
Four cars for Rolex 24
Star power with Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson
French connection with Mustang Sampling Cadillac
Magnussen comes over from Formula 1
Kamui Kobayashi was fastest on the first day of the Roar in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R. The Japanese endurance ace posted a time of 1:35.312 in this morning’s practice session.
“I’m very happy to be returning for the Rolex 24 At Daytona again,” Kobayashi said. “Obviously, this time, I’ve changed teams to Action Express. Thanks to Ally for this opportunity and to Jimmie Johnson for this opportunity as well. In terms of being back in the car, it’s the same car, same engine, just a different team. I still think the car is great. I fit quite well with this package. When I jumped in the car, I felt really comfortable and I set a good lap time. I just did 14 laps, which is not much. But, I felt pretty good.”
Since the IMSA debut of the DPi formula in 2017, Cadillac has claimed two Manufacturers Championships, four Michelin Endurance Cup Championships and 18 race wins, including four consecutive victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The brand is going for an unprecedented five wins in a row at the 59th running of the twice-around-the-clock classic.
New for the Roar this year will be a points paying 100-minute qualifying race Sunday, Jan. 24. The format will include the entire 50-car field with just two drivers participating for each team.
Action Express Racing is running two cars at the World Center of Racing. The No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R will feature seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmy Johnson. Teaming with Johnson is IndyCar Champion Simon Pagenaud, and Rolex 24 winners Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller.
Also under the Action Express Racing tent is the always front running No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R with seasoned racers Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Mike Conway. Joining the experienced trio of road racers is the 2020 NASCAR Cup Champion Chase Elliott. Elliott is no stranger to road racing, having won five road course events in NASCAR.
“It’s a whirlwind. It’s like trying to drink water through a fire hose right now, just trying to learn,” Elliott said. It’s obviously a high-performance vehicle – especially through the braking zones and through those sections of the track where they like speed. The faster you go through some of these sections the better it drives. I’m trying to get that through my head a little bit. I felt like every lap I was getting better, pushing my limits and trying to figure out how fast I could get through those fast sections. It’s a lot of fun for sure. I’ll keep working at it and go from there.”
Jimmie Johnson is having fun driving the Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R and working with the team getting it dialed into the track.
“This is a ton of fun. It’s an awesome race car,” Johnson said. “We have an amazing teaming and amazing driver lineup. The camaraderie amongst the team, the professionalism, and the focus on winning is the great combination of all those things. So, I’m really excited and enjoying myself.
“We were in a different car when we tested so I’m getting used to this specific car. Of course, we’ve made some changes since the last time we were here and there’s a lot more traffic on the track. So, we’re trying to understand where the track is going and what the set up needs to be was the bulk of [what we did] today.”
Chip Ganassi Racing is new to the Cadillac fold for 2021. Ganassi returns to IMSA WeatherTech competition after a successful run in GTLM with Ford. Behind the wheel of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R is former Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen who will run alongside Cadillac DPi-V.R veteran and Rolex 24 winner Renger Van Der Zande, as well as Ganassi IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson.
“Really pleased to be able to turn my first laps here at Daytona,” Magnussen said. “I think it was a good run. I was able to get a good feeling for all of the traffic and trying to get to grips with the Cadillac on this track. Good first day. Lots of work to do. We are going well.”
JDC-Miller Motorsports returns with the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with an all French driver line-up. Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval will go the season with Sebastien Bourdais coming in for the longer events.
“It is a green track, so we spent the day fighting a few things with the balance of our Mustang Sampling Cadillac,” Vautier said. “It is tough to know where everyone else is at as most are on different strategies. We are working our program and will stay the course. We will see what everyone else has tomorrow.”
Laura Wontrop Klauser, General Motors sports car program manager, likes the way the day went and the brand’s chances to win its fifth Rolex 24 At Daytona.“I’m thrilled with our teams and driver line-up for this year’s Rolex 24,” Klauser said. “Hearing the Cadillac V8s roaring along the Daytona banking today makes all the stress of the off season melt away.”
“It’s exciting to have talent from various motorsports genres wanting to race with us. Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and No. 48 Ally Cadillac entries with Jimmy and Chase will attract lots of attention. JDC-Miller Motorsports kicks off 2021 where they left off with their all-French line up in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. And, we’re excited to welcome Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 Cadillac to the family. Chip Ganassi Racing got up and running in two months but with their extensive sportscar, NASCAR, and IndyCar experience and their impressive driver lineup I am sure the learning curve will be pretty flat. I am looking forward to a lot of friendly competition between our cars this race and all season.”
Cadillac Roar Before the 24 lineup and practice times and IMSA WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race Cadillac lineup drivers in bold:
1 No. 48 Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R, Jimmy Johnson, Simon Pagenaud, Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Rockenfeller, 1:35.312
3 No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway, Chase Elliott, 1:35.842
4 No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, Kevin Magnussen, Renger Van Der Zande, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, 1:35.963 Qualifying drivers TBD.
7 No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval, Sebastien Bourdais, 1:36.524
The 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will has kicked-off with the traditional Roar Before the 24 test this weekend. The 59th running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona season opening race will run Jan. 28-31.
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Phot. Richard Prince