Acura, Cadillac step up LMDh testing

Testing for the LMDh cars that will be part of the GTP class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023 and that will also be included in the World Endurance Championship continue to accelerate, with Acura doing the first kilometers on its ARX-06 and Cadillac deeper into development with a five-day test at Sebring last week.

Acura did an initial system check at Paul Ricard Airport last week before moving on to track testing with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Ricky Taylor and Honda Performance Development (HPD) Performance Engineer and driver Matt McMurry. McMurry, the 2020 GTD Champion for Meyer Shank Racing, led development work on several software operating systems on the ARX-06. Overall, the test went well according to HPD president and technical director David Salters.

“It’s still early, of course, but I have to say that we’re quite pleased with the results of the first two shakedown runs last week at Paul Ricard, followed by two days this weekend, both on Saturday and Sunday,” said Salters.

“Everyone on our team from ORECA, HPD, the Wayne Taylor and Meyer Shank organizations worked extremely well together preparing and executing these first runs. Now the real hard work begins.”

The ARX-06 is based on an ORECA chassis and is powered by an HPD/Acura engine in combination with the spec hybrid system that will be used on all LMDh cars. Acura has not released details of the engine package, but a turbocharged V6 is likely. The still cloaked exterior styling was developed with the Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles, together with HPD. The car will be driven by existing Acura DPi teams Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian.

Cadillac had already unveiled its LMDh prototype and made an initial shakedown a few weeks ago, but testing got into full swing with five days at Sebring led by Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande, Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. The test was done in collaboration with Porsche, which took the leap from its competitors with its 963 which has already undergone thousands of miles of testing.

“Discovering the new Cadillac LMDh at Sebring has been a very exciting experience,” said Bourdais, who has raced with Van der Zande to three wins this season, including Cadillac’s most recent DPi win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. “The car is not only beautiful, but also a lot of fun to drive. It’s early days and we haven’t focused on the setup work, but the foundation is already very solid and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel soon.”

Van der Zande added: “You can feel the energy in the team. Everyone is extremely motivated to make this a success.”

Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing will race the Dallara-based Cadillac Project GTP Hypercar in the GTP category next year, and CGR will also drive two cars in WEC Hypercar. The debut for the GTP category will be the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

“It was a fantastic feeling to drive the car down in Sebring,” said Lynn, who drove to victory in the Twelve Hours of Sebring with Bamber and Neel Jani in March.

“We learned a lot over the course of the five-day test. The Cadillac V8 sounds incredible and it pulls extremely well. I’m looking forward to learning some more, but it was quite fun to ride, and we’ve got nothing but great signs at the moment. ”

Cadillac Racing assistant program manager Kalvin Parker noted that the team of engineers has put in a lot of work to build on the initial test and the on-site support from energy recovery system suppliers Bosch and Williams Advanced Engineering. Developed by GM’s Performance and Racing propulsion team in Pontiac, Michigan, the all-new Cadillac 5.5-liter DOHC V-8 engine is mated to the LMDh common hybrid system.

“As we build out this complex system, we were able to rely on their expertise and that of our team,” he said. “The full support of our suppliers was essential to get good mileage.”

The development of the LMDh cars with their common hybrid system was a unique collaborative exercise, emphasized by the fact that Porsche and Cadillac tested together at Sebring. As previously highlighted by RACER, the collaboration between manufacturers that will compete on the track – partnered with hybrid system suppliers Bosch, Xtrac and Williams Advanced Engineering and supported by IMSA, the FIA ​​and ACO – has been unprecedented. That, says Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car program manager, will contribute to the category’s overall success.

“The collaboration between OEs in developing hybrid systems with specifications has been incredible and has resulted in a more efficient timeline for identifying and resolving issues,” said Klauser. “It’s great to work closely with those we’re competing against because we all want to make sure the spec parts are good to use and we can race them on the track.”

Acura, Cadillac and Porsche will be joined by BMW in the near future to test LMDh equipment on the track. Those four manufacturers will be the first to compete with LMDh cars in 2023, with Lamborghini joining a year later.


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