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Bourdais “surprised” Cadillac was beaten on pace in Rolex 24

Chip Ganassi Racing ace Sebastien Bourdais has expressed surprise that the Acura ARX-06 outperformed the similarly new Cadillac V-LMDh around Daytona.

#01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh: Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Cadillac Racing began IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTP era with a 3-4-5 finish, and Bourdais’ fulltime co-driver Renger van der Zande set a fastest lap just one-thousandth of a second slower than the runner-up Acura ARX-06 of Wayne Taylor Racing.

But Tom Blomqvist’s best effort in the victorious Meyer Shank Racing Acura was three-tenths faster, and in the final couple of stints, on the restarts, MSR seemed able to pull away from the Cadillacs – and eke away from the WTR Acura – at will.

The #01 Cadillac did come back from two laps down after the endurance extra driver Scott Dixon was the innocent victim in a shunt, when he braked hard to avoid a spinning LMP2 car and was struck on the rear by an LMP3 car, necessitating an unscheduled stop to replace rear bodywork.

Later, Dixon had to serve a drive-through after being sent out of the pits while the fuel hose was still attached.

Said Bourdais: “Obviously, we didn’t run the perfect race but as close as you can get to it considering it was the first outing in a race for the Cadillac V-LMDh. “Honestly, I just didn’t think it was going to take the perfect race.

“I’m really surprised that the competition beat us on performance and everybody ended up having a very clean race.

“It’s tough to be on the wrong side of things but [we scored] some good points. All the hard work from Ganassi, Cadillac and Bosch, Dallara and everybody that has been involved in this project has been rewarded with a triple finish.

“We’ll keep working and thanks for everybody’s hard work.” 

Added van der Zande: “Finishing second or third is not what we came for, but hey it’s the first time and we got points for a podium to start the season off with Ganassi.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t have the pace to win, and we didn’t have the speed on the straights to win. It’s time to collect and see where we can improve as a team. I think it’s a tribute to GM and to Dallara and Ganassi to build a car that lasts for 24 hours.”

Cadillac reported “no major mechanical or hybrid unit issues” and GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser said: “We brought three Cadillacs, which was the most of any brand, and all three took the checkered flag.

"I’d say everyone who has worked on this project, whether it be the engineers at Cadillac, the designers at Cadillac, the engineers at Dallara, Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing – everyone – should be so proud of everything we’ve accomplished."

Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook co-drove the #02 Ganassi Cadillac –which will compete in the World Endurance Championship fulltime this year – to a close fourth-placed finish, on the lead lap.

The Action Express Racing Cadillac of Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken endured an incident at two-thirds distance, where a collision with a GTD car is suspected to have led to a suspension failure. The repairs in the garage took 25 minutes, and dropped the car 12 laps down.

“It’s just one of those things and one of those races where you have to be there at the end and unfortunately, we got crashed by a GT,” said Derani. “It wasn’t major, it was just a touch from the GT. But two hours after that touch, our rear suspension gave up. So, really unfortunate there.

“The team did an amazing job to repair the car and put us back in contention. The car was really quick, so kind of bittersweet because we had a strong enough car to be on the podium, but that’s racing. Looks like we are going to be a strong team and I am looking forward to Sebring.”

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-LMDh Cadillac V- LMDh: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, Jack Aitken

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-LMDh Cadillac V- LMDh: Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims, Jack Aitken

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

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