Cadillac's WEC season has taken another hit, but lofty ambitions remain
  • Home
  • WEC
  • Cadillac's WEC season has taken another hit, but lofty ambitions remain
By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
4 min read

Cadillac's WEC season has taken another hit, but lofty ambitions remain

It plans to challenge for the podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours

Cadillac just can't catch a break in the World Endurance Championship at the moment.

A disqualification at the season's opening round at Bahrain was followed by a distant 10th place finish at Imola, and hopes were high that the team could find some competitiveness as the championship headed to Spa.

And that appeared to very much be the case when racing got underway too. That was until the final two hours of the race.

Cadillac had a great qualifying session at Spa, making it through to Hyperpole for the second time this season, and then putting the car second on the grid, just 0.008s off the pole-sitting Penske Porsche.

And even though the car struggled for pace in the opening stint, Cadillac's strategy appeared to be working and it looked like it was going to be on course for a first podium of the year.

But then with just under two hours remaining disaster struck. While trying to pass the #99 Proton Porsche on the Kemmel Straight, Eric Bamber misjudged the gap, and made contact with a backmarker, the #31 WRT BMW M4 GT3.

The Cadillac was immediately sent into a violent collision with the concrete wall on the right of the track, almost going completely airborne, and then coming to rest in the track. The WRT BMW also suffered catastrophic damage sending both cars into retirement immediately.

Thankfully nobody was injured, with both drivers walking away, but the Cadilliac team couldn't help but feel disappointed that its race ended in another non-points scoring finish.

However, Cadillac's team manger Stephen Mitas was able to see some positives despite the end result.

“Disappointing end to the weekend," he said. "The car was in P4, definitely fighting for podium and I think P2 was in reach.”

“Earl was driving fantastic and it was an unfortunate racing incident and we had a DNF.

"The team performed marvellously well all weekend. Free practice 1 and 2 were tough, but I think it was a phenomenal team effort from the engineers and mechanics to turn the car around for free practice 3 and then a sensational qualifying performance that put us P2 on the grid.”

Bamber agreed, believing that it proves Cadillac can be in contention for the podium at every round this year.

 “Great that Caddy built strong chassis, so it’s nice to walk away from that one," Bamber said after the race.

"It’s a real shame for the result because I think we on to something real good today. We showed really good speed today.

"I think we had good strategy, good speed, so again we showed like in Qatar that if we have things go the right way that we can definitely challenge for podiums in this championship.

"It’s good to realize that. Imola was just a bump on the radar performance-wise. And now we look forward to Le Mans.”

And that's now the sole ambition of the team. It is solely focused on a top three finish, and there's no better place to get on to the top three steps than at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Alpine gives a glimpse of its potential WEC hydrogen intentions
The prototype will have its first on-track running at this weekend’s WEC round in Belgium

Le Mans will be a different challenge though, given how much longer it is than other races on the calendar, and the fact Bamber's incident led to the car being given a five-place grid penalty at the 24-hour event.

But the pace of the Cadillac did suggest that if the team can stay out of trouble, it could well sneak its way on to the rostrum.

And GM director of motorsports engineering, Mark Stielow has already made a bold prediction for next month's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"Earl and Alex Lynn, plus the entire No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R team, were looking strong to challenge for a podium spot," he said.

"They will do the same next month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
Updated on