Chip Ganassi Racing is taking a “two-fold” approach to this week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway in shaking down one brand-new Cadillac V-LMDh and focusing on setup work with its testing-delegated chassis according to the team’s director of operations Mike O’Gara.
The factory Cadillac operation is running two LMDh cars for the first time, with the No. 01 car joining the No. 02 machine in the two-day test ahead of the LMDh platform’s race debut in next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
CGR had previously utilized a single Dallara-chassised LMDh car for all of its testing and development, which has largely been done alongside a second car run by fellow Cadillac Racing factory squad Action Express Racing.
“Going down to one car to do all of the development up until now has been nice because we’ve had double the crew attacking the car,” O’Gara told Sportscar365. “Now we’re sort of dividing and conquering.
“Hopefully it’s business as usual [this week]. We’ll take it easy with the 01 car, just to make sure there’s no gremlins.
“The main point for that car here is to shake it down and make sure it’s ready to go for the race. The other car will be the test car doing most of the work.
“The 02 [car], we’re going to work on more performance stuff. [Until now] our focus has been reliability and endurance. We really haven’t tuned on the car much.
“That car will hopefully be doing some more tuning and chassis development.”
O’Gara explained the reasoning for rolling out the first race chassis at this this test
“We just didn’t want to do two brand-new ones for the Roar,” he said. “We rushed and got this one ready for here and the 02 will be a brand-new car when we come back for the Roar.”
Cadillac has logged nearly 12,000 miles of testing prior to the start of this week’s test, with a large part coming from CGR’s recent 24-hour endurance test at Sebring International Raceway.
“We had a meeting yesterday,” O’Gara said. “From where we started in July at Putnam Park to now, it’s amazing how everybody’s come together.
“Working with AXR, that’s sort of a new world for us, this one-team thing. But everybody’s working well together.
“The reliability seems to be there. We’ll work on our performance and pace a little but here and see what we’ve got next month.”
Earl Bamber, who will be one of the team’s full-season FIA World Endurance Championship drivers, said he’s interested to see how this week’s test plays out when compared to the GTP class competition.
“It’s a bit weird to know where everyone stands speed-wise at the moment because as each manufacturer has got homologated into the window, things have changed,” he told Sportscar365.
“I think this week is going to be really exciting because it’s the first real time that everyone’s been scrutineered and will get a bit more of a clearer picture of where everybody stands heading up to the Roar, if there’s not too much sand around.
“At the end of the day, the regulations say that everyone’s got the same power and weight, so there’s not too much to hide.
“In that way it’s good and it’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”
The Kiwi echoed O’Gara’s sentiments on the amount of progress that’s so far been made.
“We’ve learned massive amounts of stuff,” Bamber said. “Cadillac didn’t have the experience from other hybrid racing series like Porsche, which has big experience with it.
“But we’ve made a lot of gains. We’ve spent many, many hours in the simulator and that’s becoming a bigger and bigger tool in sports car racing in utilizing that with the limited track time.
“There’s still a long way to go to where we want to be as well.
“I think we are well-prepared. The drivetrain has worked really, really well from day one.
“A lot of teams had hybrid problems but we’ve never really had that. We’ve just been driving. That’s been really nice and refreshing.”