INSIGHT: Can Cadillac get again into IMSA’s DPi title battle?
There’s a incredible two-team battle growing for the Daytona Prototype Worldwide (DPi) title within the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, however the competitor that has persistently proved quickest on the monitor this 12 months isn’t one in all them.
The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura pushed by Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis leads fellow Acura runners Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing) by a single level. In the meantime, a feast-or-famine marketing campaign has relegated the No. 01 Cadillac shared by Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande to fourth within the title chase, 143 factors out of the lead, with the No. 02 Cadillac Racing tandem of Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn (-96) in between.
The primary six races of the 10-race slate usually proved difficult for the No. 01 and 02 Cadillacs ready by Chip Ganassi Racing because the group fields two automobiles in IMSA’s prime class for the primary time since 2016. Mechanical issues relegated the 01 to final at school on the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, a race received by the No. 02 Cadillac.
Bourdais claimed a second consecutive pole at Lengthy Seashore, then had the velocity to drive by the sphere to win after a uncommon mistake dropped him to the again. The 01 was a non-factor at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, earlier than one other Bourdais pole at Mid-Ohio was nullified by a conflict between van der Zande’s Cadillac and Taylor’s Acura within the Esses from which the 01 got here out second greatest.
The pole-to-flag victory at Detroit was due to this fact the absolute best tonic for a group trying to find consistency and reliability to match its plain tempo. Most significantly, it lower 65 factors from their championship deficit, transferring them from sixth to fourth within the standings.
“We’ve been actually quick and had a bunch of poles, however sadly that doesn’t award the quantity of factors it is advisable to win the championship,” Bourdais famous after his newest P1 qualifying effort at Detroit. “We have to kick-start our problem within the second half of the season and put some severe factors on the board. We actually want for issues to begin going our method and our opponents to run into some points if we need to get again in that battle. We have to preserve our heads down, preserve pushing, and reduce errors, after which hope we get some luck sooner or later.”
Bourdais and van der Zande weren’t particularly proud of IMSA heading into Detroit, because the sanctioning physique primarily levied the Cadillacs with a 25-kilogram Steadiness of Efficiency penalty at a monitor the place they’ve incessantly been profitable previously.
IMSA has been extraordinarily proactive with BoP changes in 2022 in each the DPi and GTD PRO classes, because it makes an attempt to keep up parity between the Cadillac and Acura prototypes, whereas additionally integrating new era GT fashions from Corvette and BMW. For this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours on the Glen at Watkins Glen Worldwide, Cadillac just about will get its 25 kilos again, shedding the 15 kg it gained at Detroit whereas the Acuras achieve 10 kg.
The frequent BoP adjustments could appear a bit heavy-handed, however surprisingly, a lot of the opponents should not calling foul.
The DPi class is in its sixth and remaining season of competitors, and IMSA scrutineers have gathered a strong database that demonstrates the place the Acura is stronger than the Cadillac, and vice versa. Typically phrases, the Cadillac, with a heavier V8 engine and taller middle of gravity, tends to shine on tighter, bumpier circuits, whereas the Acura is at its greatest on quicker, smoother tracks.
That was most evident earlier this 12 months at Lengthy Seashore, the place Bourdais smashed the lap document in qualifying, then was in a position to drive by the sphere after dropping to the again after a uncommon mistake.
Acura dominated the trackside signage at Lengthy Seashore, however the tight and bumpy structure performed proper into the fingers of the Cadillacs. The sequence is leaning in the direction of track-specific BoP to attempt to reduce the probability of producers having a transparent benefit at sure circuits. Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Photographs
“There’s been just a few changes these days, and some drivers have had quite a bit to say about it,” mentioned championship co-leader Jarvis. “I feel this 12 months they’ve gone to a extra track-dependent form of BoP, which I’m all for. I don’t consider it’s good for the championship or the races to have such a distinction at automobiles as we see at, say, Lengthy Seashore and Detroit.”
“I’m a fan of going to extra track-specific BoP,” added Taylor. “It’s tougher to nail, however I feel after 5 years of the present configuration with the identical automobiles, IMSA has been sort of in a position to nail it down they usually’ve been in a position to make some well-targeted changes right here and there to try to shut the gaps at some extra dominant tracks for Cadillac or Acura.”
With six races down and 4 to go, the DPi championship ought to logically be fought out between the No. 10 and No. 60 Acuras. However the sheer tempo the No. 01 Cadillac has demonstrated so usually this 12 months reveals that Bourdais and van der Zande can’t be counted out.
They’re placing further emphasis on Watkins Glen and the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Street Atlanta as a result of the marginally expanded DPi subject for these two Michelin Endurance Cup occasions will increase the potential level unfold between first and final.
“Climbing up will likely be troublesome,” admitted van der Zande. “However who is aware of? I’m not giving up till the final hour of Petit Le Mans. I’m pessimistic in regards to the championship, however I’m not giving up till it’s over.”
Taylor, particularly, is aware of how robust the No. 01 Cadillac duo may very well be coming down the stretch. Whereas he has by no means immediately teamed with van der Zande, his brother, Jordan, shared a DPi protoype with the Dutchman when van der Zande drove for Wayne Taylor Racing from 2018-20. And Bourdais has confirmed to have misplaced none of his velocity or savvy at age 43.
“We will’t simply take a look at the No. 60,” Taylor famous. “We’ve to verify we’re successful races or ending on the rostrum, and most significantly, we will’t let a Cadillac into the equation. The No. 01 has been quick in all places and if they begin placing collectively outcomes, they may very simply discover themselves again within the battle.
“I feel now we have to do our greatest to do our personal factor and win races and end within the prime two or three at worst, and that can negate no matter they’re doing.”