Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM’s sports car racing program manager, says calibrating the code to run a GTP prototype has been the biggest mountain for the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Cadillac will have three V-LMDh cars in action at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, two run by Chip Ganassi Racing, the other by Action Express Racing, as IMSA enters a new era of hybrid prototypes.
After testing at Daytona earlier this month, Klauser stated: “The sheer amount of code and software written to drive this car is daunting. We can’t have enough software engineers working at the moment because everything about the car is interconnected – things that in the past we never had to worry about interfering with the DPi or other racing programs. Now, if one thing is a little off, it’s not going to spin or spin or brake or whatever.
“The importance of making sure all calibrations are correct and then the safety critical component of making sure everything is correct is huge. Going through all that was probably the biggest mountain when we had all the parts of the car to test.”
Like all OEMs, it has also proven difficult to keep enough spare parts in stock, leading the manufacturer to be wary of problems that could arise during the Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona, held a week before the actual season-opening race.
“Parts management has been a struggle,” Klauser said, “getting enough parts and making sure the quality is what we need.
“Especially with the three-car draft, we want to make sure we have everything for the primary, we have spares and then – God forbid something happens in the Roar – we have backups for backups. Part of it we’ll probably get just for that, and part we may not have backups for backups.
“Really, just having enough parts to run the cars successfully and work with the supply chain. Of course, Christmas also makes things a bit tricky. It’s a challenge to get things this time of year, but we’ve got a full team and we’re working on it.
On the nature of that challenge, Klauser said, “It’s incredible what we’ve done in a short amount of time with all the economic factors in the world that have impacted how everyone runs their businesses today. Labor shortages, supply chain – they are real and affect us every day.
“We’ve brought some incredible young people to our program who just blow us away with what they can do. If you say, ‘Hey, we need to fix this problem. Figure it out’ and then give them the freedom and the opportunity to do what they think is right, it’s been great. It really is the future.
“It’s looking at how we can combine people with more than 20 years of racing experience with new people who have more experience with this new software and everything we bring on board. You can see how mature and emerging people work together and how they learn from each other.”
Klauser also pointed out that the different car brands had joined forces in some areas so that they were all ready to race for the Rolex 24 in time. And, as she has stated in previous interviews, Klauser believes it is imperative that Ganassi and Action Express are collaborating to develop the V-LMDh.
“This program in general has really pushed all of us to work together – even between the OEMs,” she said. “We had such compressed timelines. We have a brand new hybrid spec system in the car. The chassis is all new to all of us, so we had to pool resources to get to the point where we had running cars in Daytona [in the test] and as we prepare for the Rolex.
“It is the same approach for the teams. If we try to be on different islands, we wouldn’t be able to compete once we get to the Rolex. We had to work together. We had to swap parts back and forth to make sure the cars were running. We had to learn to share and I think necessity can be the best tool you can have in your toolbox because there was really no option to get this program done other than working together.
Speaking of collaboration, Klauser sounded confident that the differences between LMDh and LMH will be skillfully handled to ensure parity.
She said: “Regarding the two platforms racing against each other, so much work has gone into that, countless technical working group meetings, discussions, a lot of decisions that have been made to try to bring equality between the two platforms. Efforts have been made to make it run correctly.
“Did we miss something? Could be. There’s always that one thing that once you worry about all the bigger things, the little things become big things. I really applaud the efforts of the two sanctioning bodies and the manufacturers.
“This is definitely a team sport to figure out how to get all these cars together so they can race in parity.”