Cadillac Racing will break new ground next year as it debuts the all-new ATS-V.R in Pirelli World Challenge competition, marking the first-ever FIA GT3-homologated car to be run by GM.
Revealed during a launch event at Circuit of The Americas last month, the Pratt & Miller-built machine has been through a rigorous testing and development program, having only turned its first laps in mid-August.
According to Cadillac Racing technical program manager David Caldwell, multiple test sessions at numerous locations have occurred since, including the mandatory FIA Balance of Performance Test at Michelin’s Ladoux test track in September.
In fact, Caldwell believes the biggest difference in the development process of the new ATS-V.R compared to the previous two generations of CTS-V.R cars, which were built to World Challenge-spec, has been the conformity to FIA GT3 regulations.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Caldwell told Sportscar365. “It’s a rigorous process that the FIA has you go through. There’s a pretty well-defined performance criteria for the car, which actually helps you in a lot of ways if you know what your targets are. We’ve been doing our homework on that for quite a while.
“The tools and the processes… we have that all. But it was stressful to get done on time. It came together and we’re pretty happy about that.”
The other significant change comes under the hood, with a new LF4.R 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 engine replacing the normally aspirated V8s that were in Caddy’s previous PWC racers.
“The turbo is definitely different but we were able to carry a lot of learning from the production side of it,” Caldwell explained. “It provided a good foundation. A lot of stuff had to be reconfigured but because we had such a good foundation engine to work with, it wasn’t too big of a challenge.
“If we had to do a ground-up design without having the production engines and the learning the production teams had on those engines, then I think it would have been a much bigger challenge to the race team.”
Caldwell said the production-based engine has been under development for the last two years, with the team having taken the decision on the ATS platform and V6 turbo prior to confirming that it would be built to GT3-spec.
It was also confirmed the road car and race car would share the same powerplant, unlike previous generations.
“The CTS-V street car and the CTS-V race car were primarily different,” Caldwell said. “One was supercharged and one wasn’t. We didn’t want to have that in the new car. That’s why we kicked off the twin-turbo program.
“We felt that we needed to have a boosted V6 to have a race car in GT. We went forward with that prior to have the official decision on a GT3-spec.”
Despite World Challenge exclusively featuring sprint races, the ATS-V.R is being developed with durability in mind, particularly with the potential of customer sales or other racing in the future.
“We have a major focus on being prepared for endurance races,” Caldwell said. “That’s part of the GT3 spec. Obviously we want it to be a good sprint racer but it has to be a good endurance racer as well. A lot of the focus is on getting that durability that we need.”
With the car expected to receive its final homologation from the FIA in February, it’s full throttle ahead for the team, which sees the return of Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell to the driver’s strength.
Despite fielding a pair of brand-new cars, Caldwell is confident of their chances of fighting for a fourth consecutive manufacturers’ championship in what’s become an increasingly competitive series.
“I expect us to be right there,” he said. “Obviously every first year, there’s things you learn, but I think we’re very well prepared. Its nice to have the FIA work on balancing the cars and be the funnel for all of that. It’s nice to be on that level playing field.
“It is a developmental year and we have to be realistic about it. It is the first year we’re racing the cars. But we have a lot of experience over the years, especially working through Pratt & Miller on these things. I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape and well prepared.”