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Cadillac One-Team Approach a “Culture Shift” for CGR

Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing on increased cooperation…

Photo: John Dagys

Cadillac Racing’s ‘one-team approach’ to its factory LMDh program has admittedly been a “culture shift” for Chip Ganassi Racing according to the team’s director of operations, although it has reaped benefits in working alongside Action Express Racing in the development of the Cadillac V-LMDh.

The Detroit manufacturer has stepped up commitment to top-level prototype racing this year with a two-car factory effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, split between the two teams, as well as a single full season Cadillac entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship run by CGR.

Mike O’Gara, who oversees CGR’s global operations, said its new relationship with AXR has been a new experience but one that’s gone “amazingly well” so far.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience for both teams and, quite honestly, a bit of a culture shift for Chip Ganassi Racing,” he said.

“We always pride ourselves on how we communicate internally. At the Indy 500 last year we had five race cars that were all capable of running at the front, so sharing info is what we do.

“But we haven’t often shared info outside of this building.

“But I think it’s gone amazingly well so far, sharing info with not just Action Express but with our GM Powertrain partners, with Dallara, with Michelin.

“It takes a village, and so far I think the partnership with AXR has gone really well. We’re figuring out who is better at what things and we divide and conquer. Hopefully, that will show in a couple of weeks.”

While the two teams were embedded from the car’s first rollout at Putnam Park last July and initial testing, CGR and AXR have continued to share data through its individual testing programs.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Mike and his group,” Action Express team manager Gary Nelson said. “I think we’ve advanced the technology a lot quicker because with each test we’ve done one group would test one series of items and the other another set.

“We were organized on who was doing what and we would get together at the end of each day – or sometimes part way through the day – and say, ‘We were having a little trouble with this part. You might want to check it on your car’ or ‘We just learned this change made a big difference. You might want to try it on your car.’

“We’ve had that back and forth discussion and I welcome it very much.”

O’Gara admitted they ‘haven’t had the meeting’ yet on how the teams will work together on a race weekend but believes the two organizations will still benefit from each other’s common link of fielding the same Dallara-chassied LMDh car.

“I think a big part of winning [the Rolex 24 at Daytona] is reliability, so we’re going to be huddling up constantly, especially with car issues and things like that,” he said.

“We work closely with Dallara on set-up stuff, so the cars will all be mechanically identical and then we’ll go race on Saturday and Sunday to see out of all of us who can get it done.”

Nelson added: “If we learn something we want to make sure that the other Cadillacs know it and if they learn something they pass it to us because at the end we want a Cadillac to win the Daytona 24.

“I’d like it to be our Cadillac, but we still want a Cadillac to be in the winner’s circle.”

LMDh the “Most Intense” Program Launch in CGR History

O’Gara said the development and rollout of the hybrid-powered Cadillac V-LMDh car has been the most complex in CGR’s expansive history.

“It’s been a huge undertaking,” he said. “In the 30-year history of Chip Ganassi Racing, we’ve been fortunate to be part of a lot of different vehicle launches, whether that’s been for IndyCar, Indy Racing League or Champ Car or the Ford GT program.

“This one is by far the most intense, the most complex and, honestly, the most exciting for the company.

“I think the timelines we’ve been holding to have been difficult with supply chain issues, trying to put adequate miles on the cars to be ready and the level of complexity of the cars with the hybrid system and the other control systems.

“It’s just more than we’ve ever undertaken before.

“An added complexity is going to race this car in two different series on two different continents. We have one eye on getting our WEC program up and running, getting a facility over there, appropriate personnel and equipment as well.

“That adds another layer of complexity, but everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing is excited and looking forward to representing Cadillac around the world. It’s a great time of us.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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