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Cadillac will "work around" lack of European testing "handicap" for WEC entry

Cadillac has admitted that it will have to “work around” its failure to test its new LMDh prototype on any European tracks ahead of its 2023 World Endurance Championship campaign.

#01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh: Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon

Laura Wontrop Klauser, sportscar programme manager at Cadillac parent company General Motors, conceded that the absence of European test miles for the Chip Ganassi Racing squad that will field a single V-LMDh in the WEC “could be called a handicap”.

But Klauser stressed that she doesn’t believe “it is something that is going to completely put us out of the running”.

“It’s just one item that we wish we would have gotten to and we’ll just have to work around,” she added.

Cadillac opted to focus testing with its LMDh developed in conjunction with Dallara entirely on home ground in the US from its first shakedown in early July through to its debut in last month’s opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Daytona where Ganassi fielded its WEC entry alongside the car it will campaign in North America.

Klauser explained that the constraints of the development programme had resulted in the decision not to take the WEC car to be shared by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook to Europe for testing.

“We would have liked to do some testing in Europe,” she said.

“The main reason we didn’t is because we were very hardware constrained and shipping has become quite challenging in terms of lead time.

“We could not sacrifice a car being in a container being shipped for extra days or weeks when we had a very aggressive test schedule that we were trying to accomplish in a short period of time.”

#02 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh: Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Richard Westbrook

#02 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh: Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Richard Westbrook

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Klauser revealed that Cadillac and Ganassi are currently working out when it will go testing in Europe after the WEC kicks off with the Sebring 1000 Miles on 17 March.

“Now that we have gone racing [at Daytona in January], we’re going to see if we can get some testing scheduled in Europe in the spring,” she explained.

“It’s always good to test on pavement that is similar to where you’re racing, so that would be key on our list of something to get done.”

Testing is banned at WEC race venues for a 30-day period before the first day of practice.

That would make it impossible for Cadillac and Ganassi to test at the Algarve circuit near Portimao in Portugal ahead of round two of the WEC on 16 April.

The chances of getting some mileage at Spa, venue for round three on 29 April, would appear highly unlikely.

Klauser stressed the value of racing at Sebring, where the V-LMDh will compete in the WEC round with Ganassi and the IMSA 12-hour event with Ganassi and Action Express Racing on 17 and 18 March respectively.

“Sebring is one of the best places in the world to find out how reliable your vehicle is, so it will be exciting to see what things look like at the end of the races,” she said.

Cadillac has conducted extensive testing of its V-LMDh at Sebring, the scene of the first WEC race of 2023

Cadillac has conducted extensive testing of its V-LMDh at Sebring, the scene of the first WEC race of 2023

Photo by: Cadillac Communications

Cadillac’s one-car WEC squad is set to be bolstered by both its US entries for the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.

Klauser has stated that the marque wants to run as many cars as possible in the blue riband event on 10/11 June, while stressing that any additional cars will be dependent on its entries being accepted by race organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

Van der Zande cheered by "flawless" Sebring group test

Ganassi driver Renger van der Zande was bullish about Cadillac's potential at Sebring after a two-day IMSA test at the track, despite Acura setting the pace.

The Dutchman finished third on the V-LMDh's race debut at Daytona alongside full-season partner Sebastien Bourdais and endurance extra Scott Dixon as the Acura ARX-06s finished 1-2, with Meyer Shank Racing leading the identical Wayne Taylor Racing example.

PLUS: How MSR took Acura to the first win of sportscar racing's new era

But despite WTR driver Filipe Albuquerque managing a best effort half a second quicker than any of his rivals, van der Zande sounded confident that the Cadillacs will be better tuned to the demands of the bumpy 3.74-mile Sebring course in the 12 Hours.

“We had two really good days of testing,” he said.

“I felt for the first time we could really work on the car and the car ran flawlessly. Building up to the Daytona race was something where we were going into the unknown, and now we’re starting to understand the car better and better, which is why we’re improving on the car setup-wise as well.

“It’s been a lot of kilometers in the car, working with the engineers and mechanics to make things better in Sebring specifically. I feel we have a very good base going there for the 12 Hours.”

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