Why did Cadillac choose not to take a third driver for the 3H of Imola?

Cadillac is the only team in the Hypercar category to have only two drivers for the 6 Hours of Imola. The American clan explains its choice, guided in particular by its experience in IMSA.

Published on 19/04/2024 à 16:51

Dorian Grangier

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Why did Cadillac choose not to take a third driver for the 3H of Imola?

© Frédéric Le Floc'h / DPPI

On the entry list, the drivers' grids for the 37 cars registered are complete... except one. Only one car will have only two drivers at the wheel this weekend, at Imola. As announced at the start of the season, Cadillac is coming to Italy with a duo, and not a trio like the rest of the Hypercar field. A line-up authorized by the regulations for six-hour races only, but a solution adopted only by the American team this weekend… but why?

Cadillac and the successful experience of the two drivers

The most obvious reason is the clash between the 6H of Imola in WEC, and the Long Beach Channel in IMSA, which will take place Saturday evening. The usual Cadillac drivers, Sébastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande, will be held accountable in the United States. But then, why didn't Cadillac choose another driver from the GM family? At Corvette, for example? In reality, Cadillac made this choice consciously, based in particular on its long experience in IMSA, as Laura Wontrop Klauser explains.

“Earl [Bamber] and Alex [Lynn] have been working together for a few years: they have a very good relationship with each other, they work very well and complement each other very well, underlines the head of sports activities at General Motors. So I think we built on that good relationship between the drivers and we'll see what happens. »

“We have two six-hour races in the IMSA championship this season, one at Watkins Glen and one at Indianapolis. We often enter two drivers for these two races. Sometimes three, sometimes two. Really, it depends on the heat [on the circuit]. We have had success in the past [with two pilots]. We know we can do it, and I think both drivers are excited to have the car to themselves and show the world what they've got. »

Cadillac could benefit from this two-driver solution: one less driver in the crew means fewer compromises in terms of settings, but also less handover. At Imola, beyond the characteristics of the circuit with a winding and cramped track, the narrowness of the pit lane could create traffic jams and several hassles in the event of passing through the general pits. Cadillac could avoid these setbacks by spending less time in the box and thus returning to the track more quickly.

The IMSA program useful in Imola?

“I always thought it was an advantage to have only two drivers in the six-hour races, Sébastien Bourdais told us ahead of this weekend. An advantage at all levels: less rotation, more time on the track. For a driver, it's easier to optimize the car when he can drive longer. » However, if the Frenchman – winner of the 6H of Imola in 2011 with Peugeot – will not be on site, the two teams in Europe and America will be in constant communication this weekend for essential mutual assistance between the two programs.

“We are connected. The team that supports IMSA and the team that supports the WEC through Cadillac are therefore all connected to each other, specifies Laura Wontrop Klauser. Once the race weekend starts, I think they're very focused on their work, but I think they're just a text or phone call away from each other if needed. »

Cadillac arrives in Emilia-Romagna with the ambition of taking revenge after its disqualification from the 1812km of Qatar. On a track as atypical as Imola, which has characteristics similar to American circuits, could the Detroit firm take an advantage from its IMSA program in the WEC?

“I think it might be helpful.” We've done a good job at Sebring in the past, which is probably one of the tracks you think of the most [when you think of bumpy tracks]. We put a lot of effort into it, so we might have a decisive advantage. That's what we'll see... or maybe not, because we know a lot of teams have done a lot of testing here too. »

ALSO READ > The program for the 6 Hours of Imola 2024

Dorian Grangier

A young journalist nostalgic for the motorsport of yesteryear. Raised on the exploits of Sébastien Loeb and Fernando Alonso.

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