Race Preview: Sebring Double-HeaderIMSA
Chip Ganassi Racing will venture to Sebring International Raceway this weekend as the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R team continues their endeavors in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, while the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R will make its Hypercar debut in the World Endurance Championship.
WEC’s 1,000 Miles of Sebring event will kick off on Friday, March 17, at 12:00 p.m. ET, while IMSA’s Twelve Hours of Sebring will commence on Saturday, March 18, at 10:05 a.m. ET.
CGR enters as the defending 12 Hours of Sebring race winners, as Earl Bamber, Neel Jani and Alex Lynn seized victory in remarkable fashion in 2022. The team lost and re-gained the lead three separate times across the final 60 laps of the 12-hour endurance event, but ultimately brought the victory home in what was the team’s 2nd all-time overall win (2014) in the historic race.
The team flashed superb pace throughout the entire race weekend last year, as Sebastien Bourdais claimed pole position with a track-record qualifying lap time of 1:45.166 (128.025 mph).
Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon will look to continue their momentum gained from a podium finish at the season-opening 24 Hours of Daytona race in January. Bourdais boasts 3 career wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring race, tied for the 2nd-most among active drivers in this year’s field.
Meanwhile, Bamber, Lynn, Richard Westbrook and the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R team exhibited stellar pace when faced against its WEC competitors for the first time at the Prologue in Sebring last week. Bamber topped the timing sheets in the second session with a swift lap time of 1:48.429.
CGR holds 70 total sports car victories under their belt, including 64 in all-time wins in IMSA competition – the 3rd-most in series history (since 1969).
You can watch CGR and Cadillac tackle the 1,000-mile WEC race on Motor Trend Friday, while IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring race will be featured on Peacock and IMSA TV throughout the entirety of the race, and on USA from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
Bourdais: "Sebring is a huge event on the calendar and an important race for everybody, and particularly for Cadillac. We definitely didn't have a dream start to the season in Daytona, but a far better start than we had last year and a competitive car. I think there's definitely room for improvement. It's going to be a grueling Sebring 12 hours and it's a track that I very much like. I've won there a couple of times and it wouldn't be a bad idea to do that again. Looking forward to take the GTP Cadillac on the track and correct what happened last year after being on pole and then not being able to contend. We had a good test, so hopefully we're in good shape and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Dixon: “I’m looking forward to Sebring, where Cadillac has had quite a bit of success. It’s a race that I haven’t won, but have come close a few times. With how Daytona went, I think the big surprise was how well all the GTP cars went. I think it will be an interesting weekend from a manufacturers’ standpoint to have both WEC and IMSA to see the performances and give us an idea of maybe where Le Mans will go as well. Always a fun race, a tough race especially with the bumps of the track and reliability, and then the craziness of when it gets dark. There always seems to be a yellow or two within the last hour and a half that kind of determines the outcome of the race. I think the team is doing a great job, especially at the last test, and we’re going there for the win.”
van der Zande: "Sebring is a big one for me, personally, as I think it’s some of the best racing you can find with how competitive it is, and how much of a battle it is to stay in the race, as well. With the bumpy track, it can really wear the car down. We’ve had a good start to the season and we’re still hoping that the car is reliable, as it was in Daytona, and we can find our way to Victory Lane.”
Bamber: "It’s great to back at Sebring, where Cadillac has had a lot of success including our win last year. Now we’re here with a different challenge with a new Cadillac V-Series.R and looking forward to it. The Prologue went well. We were at or near the top of the chart every session – doing long runs, learning the tires and getting in full race preparation mode because there are short practice sessions when we roll back out Wednesday and it’s right into the race. Brand new team in terms of we did Daytona but now this a WEC team with a European-based crew, so we’re all learning. Looking forward to the race."
Lynn: “I think we’ve built a great car. Us joining the World Endurance Championship is a different form of racing and something we have to adapt to and we’re learning a lot every day. We’ve been building up for this moment for a while and I’m impressed with how things are going. From my side I’m extremely excited to come back to a track where I’ve had loads of success. The personnel we’ve put together are extremely talented and we have to keep building. The car has been reliable and quick, which are the two main ingredients and that’s what gets everyone excited. I think we have a really talented driver crew, a fast car and those are the two bits that are hard to get. Once you’ve got that, the rest comes naturally.”
Westbrook: “Really looking forward to Sebring to kick off a whole new era in sports car racing, particularly for the Cadillac entry into the world championship. This will be a slightly shorter race than I’m used to, but different now with the new Hypercar contingent. It will be fascinating, not just for us, but for the fans. I think everyone is really excited to see how that competition shakes out. Obviously, after Daytona, we have a lot of confidence in our car reliability-wise, but we have no idea how we will fare on pace. We have a little understanding how we compare with Porsche, but it’s going into the big unknown with the Hypercars. We’re all so excited and can’t wait to kick this season off.”
Source: Chip Ganassi Racing