SOURCE: IMSA.com by Jeff Olson
At first look, it steals your breath. Sleek yet aggressive, bold yet elegant. Undeniably a Cadillac, yet an altogether different kind of Cadillac.
Meet Cadillac’s Project GTP Hypercar, which previews the manufacturer’s third-generation prototype race car.
What went behind the design of the new car was complicated and layered, an in-depth project involving dozens of people from several areas, melding the success of the Cadillac DPi-V.R that’s been winning races and championships in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class since 2017 with the unlimited possibilities of the new car and the new-for-2023 Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class.
“It’s exciting to start a new chapter,” said Chris Mikalauskas, Cadillac’s lead exterior creative designer. “We’ve proven ourselves in IMSA and we want to continue to prove ourselves, but we really just want to prove ourselves now on an even higher level of vehicle.”
Mikalauskas and his design team brought the car from idea to reality in just 15 months. Thursday’s Project GTP Hypercar preview was the “wow” part. Now it’s time to see how the race car develops as the new car and class prepare to begin racing in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. On-track testing is set to begin later this summer.
“It’s a cool canvas to be able to show people the fact that we’re going to continue to make performance products in the future and this is a sample of what they might look like,” Mikalauskas said. “I just want people to realize that we’re not done making cars that are going to perform extremely well. It’s something we very much want to be a part of, and this design previews that.”
The trick for Mikalauskas and his team of engineers was to carry the success of Cadillac’s DPi V.R – which won two titles and four consecutive Rolex 24s in its six years in the WeatherTech Championship – to the new car.
“We know certain things work,” Mikalauskas said. “Whenever you radically change the proportions of a vehicle, not everything translates. While we have the experience and the winning pedigree, we definitely had to do some invention and discovery on this new program.
“We’re super excited and super happy about where we ended up, but it wasn’t as easy as saying, ‘OK, take the DPi and stretch it this way and stretch it that way.’ It was a ground-up build.”
The new car will be powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 engine paired with the LMDh single-source hybrid powertrain. Cadillac intends to compete in both the WeatherTech Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), including next year’s 24 Hour of Le Mans.
“Cadillac will be competing again on the world racing stage, and we are all thrilled to return to Le Mans after 22 years,” said Rory Harvey, Vice President Global Cadillac. “By competing in both the 2023 IMSA and WEC championships, Cadillac Racing has the opportunity to demonstrate its capability, craftsmanship and technology.”
The manufacturer has been demonstrating those attributes in North America since 2017, winning three WeatherTech Championship titles, four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup championships and the Rolex 24 At Daytona four times in a row. Last weekend’s victory at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Detroit’s Belle Isle by the No. 01 Cadillac driving duo of Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais was the manufacturer’s 26th in IMSA competition over the past five-and-a-half seasons.
Cadillac’s success with the DPi car played into the design of the new car.
“Knowing why it worked is really the important thing to take away,” Mikalauskas said. “In certain situations on the new car – again, with it being so different and having different tracks to run on – the objectives changed.”
So it was up to Mikalauskas and a team of engineers at Cadillac Racing, Cadillac Design and Dallara to create something artful yet functional, meeting the specifics of the LMDh platform while maintaining Cadillac design cues like the brand’s distinct vertical headlamps and taillights.
“We love it from a design side and an aesthetic side because the car is lower and wider and has great proportions,” Mikalauskas said. “But all of those proportions came from performance needs. While the car did change quite a bit, all of those changes were necessary to run the new power plant.”
Five manufacturers – Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche in 2023 and Lamborghini in 2024 – have announced plans to compete with LMDh cars in the GTP class, which replaces DPi as the top prototype class in the WeatherTech Championship in 2023. Those cars are also eligible to race in the WEC Hypercar class.
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