Cadillac, Chip Ganassi Racing Return to 24 Hours of Le Mans with Podium SuccessWEC
After a full day of intense racing in Le Mans, France, Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 2 and No. 3 Cadillacs finished third and fourth at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in what was the team's first go at overall competition in the historic race.
The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R, driven by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook, seized the podium finish for the team after completing 341 laps on the Circuit de la Sarthe. With their P3 result, CGR earned their fifth all-time podium at Le Mans (2016: P1/P3; 2017: P2; 2018: P3).
This also marks the best overall finish for Cadillac Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and matches the best overall finish by a Cadillac-powered car (1950: Cadillac Allard J2).
Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Renger van der Zande and the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R team exhibited remarkable pace and reliability despite facing multiple incidents out on track, securing a P4 finish with a narrow gap behind their sister car.
Chip Ganassi Racing combined to make 59 pit stops between the two teams during the endurance event, propelling the team toward the successful collective performance.
Earl Bamber: “We showed our strength at Daytona with the cars finishing in third and fourth place. Coming here, we never really know what to expect. A proud milestone for the whole project and for Cadillac Racing to lead some laps at Le Mans. That’s a cool box to tick. Then we found ourselves in a solid third position. We all learned a lot as a group and the car is very reliable. I think we can take away a couple of good lessons to tune it up and come back and achieve our ultimate goal.”
Alex Lynn: “We knew coming in that we had to run our race. We had to run clean because Ferrari and Toyota would be super fast and we had to be the car that doesn’t make a mistake and is always there. That is the theme of our season. We always dig in and grind out a result. That’s why I’m so proud of this team and this Cadillac racecar. It never misses a beat, and now we can say on the biggest stage it didn’t even in the first year of the program. It’s only going to get better.”
Richard Westbrook: “I’ve finished third five times now. It’s not a record I’m proud of. But this one honestly I’m proud. We were the best of the rest. In those conditions where it was so bad at certain times of the night, and we saw so many cars go out. On merit I think we deserved third. We were fast in certain conditions but came up a little short. Still, the gap to the leader wasn’t huge. It gives us plenty to work on and come back next year that much stronger.”
Mike O'Gara (Director of Operations): "Great effort. We all had our share of issues to overcome. The 3 had some punctures, got run into during a yellow flag and everybody just kept going and going. That’s what we do. You never come into this race feeling like you’re prepared. It proves that we were. We kept recovering and fighting. A couple small tweaks and we’ll be right there next year.”
Stephen Mitas (Team Manager): "Super effort. Everyone contributed above and beyond, that's for sure. There's a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and I think everyone here is super pleased with the result."
Sebastien Bourdais: "Super solid effort by the whole team. Big thanks to GM, Cadillac and everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. There was a lot of adversity leading up to and throughout the race. I think we can all be proud of the effort we put out on the track, it was very competitive, we just ran out of luck at a couple of points during the race. Ultimately, third and fourth for the team. I'm really happy for everyone involved. I think we would have probably signed up for this result if anybody had told us we'd be fighting for those positions at the end out of 16 cars. We're going to learn a lot, fix everything that didn't work, improve everything that did and come back stronger."
Renger van der Zande: "What a hell of a ride it's been developing this car with everyone involved - mechanics, engineers, GM, Cadillac and Dallara. I'm just super proud that we ran P3 and P4. It's a testament to how reliable the car is. I'm happy with the effort from everyone. It's pretty incredible to be part of it."
Scott Dixon: "It was a lot of fun. The conditions were demanding, it was a tough race, and the competition was fierce. I'm a little bummed for the No. 3 car though. We had two incidents where we just got hit, no fault of ours, and then we got a penalty. Without those I think we would have been fighting for a podium spot. It was great to see the No. 2 car finish on the podium. I just know how hard everyone at Cadillac, GM and Chip Ganassi Racing has worked. It's pretty special for them to come back and achieve what they have after being away and going up against the world's top manufacturers."
Bamber led the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R into the endurance race from P6 position. Sebastien Bourdais began the race for the No. 3 yellow and black Cadillac out of P8 position. While rain was not present at the beginning of the race, the track was declared wet as the green flag waved.
Bamber held strong throughout his stint, even advancing to the position of the race leader for 37 minutes. Bamber's run to the front marked the first official laps led at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Cadillac.
Roughly two hours through Bourdais' opening stint, the No. 21 (LMGTE Am) initiated contact and spun the No. 3 Cadillac. Bourdais was able to dive into the pits shortly thereafter as Scott Dixon took his turn behind the wheel. The No. 2 returned to the pits just a few minutes later and Alex Lynn jumped into the seat for their opening driver change.
The Cadillacs were under the control of Lynn and Dixon when heavy rain arrived with 21 hours remaining. Several cars were affected by the wet conditions, including the No. 3 which spun and continued on with minimal repercussions. An hour later, Renger van der Zande and Richard Westbrook jumped in the seat of the Cadillacs for their opening run at Circuit de la Sarthe.
A quarter of the way through the race (18 hours left), the No. 2 and No. 3 were running P5 and P8 as the rain came to a halt.
The No. 2 team would continue to put down swift lap times as they progressed to P3 position with 16 hours to go. The No. 3 continued to charge in their own right throughout the night, pushing for a return to the limited number of Hypercars on the lead lap.
At the halfway point of the race, the No. 2 was running in P3 while the No. 3 was in P5.
Daylight reached the track at 6:00 a.m. local time (10 hours to go) with Bamber and van der Zande piloting the Cadillacs under overcast conditions.
With eight hours and 20 minutes to go, the No. 3 executed a driver change with Bourdais replacing van der Zande. Thanks to their combined pace, the yellow No. 3 Cadillac ascended to P4 position just behind their sister car.
As sunlight broke through, Bourdais and Dixon proceeded to put down impressive lap times and diminish the gap between themselves and the three cars on the lead lap, which included the No. 2 Cadillac.
Bourdais returned to pilot the No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R with two hours remaining to make the final charge. Then, with one hour to go, Bamber replaced Westbrook in P3 position to finish the team's chase for the podium result.
Next up: Bourdais, van der Zande and their yellow Cadillac will return to IMSA competition at the Six Hours of the Glen on Sunday, June 25, while Bamber, Lynn, Westbrook and the No. 2 Cadillac will take on the World Endurance Championship's 6 Hours of Monza on July 9.
Source: Chip Ganassi Racing