‘It’s just not a fair fight’ – Cadillac drivers craving more speed

Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande finished a close second to the No, 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. It was a solid day for championship points, even if the gap to Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr grew by another 30.

However, Bourdais and van der Zande want the wins, and believe their No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R doesn’t have the ability to propel them to victory at the moment.

“At the end when the track dried up, we all came for slicks,” said van der Zande after giving it all in trying to get a run on Nasr in the final 16-minute sprint. “It was very clear from the get-go that every time I went to power, there was just not enough power to attack. Third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear, the gap was always increasing on every straight.”


He went on to clarify that in terms of pace over a lap, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has the four manufacturers pretty equal. Qualifying on Saturday produced a Grand Touring Prototype grid where every car was within three-quarters of a second. But the way the four different cars in GTP make lap time doesn’t always produce an equal opportunity when it comes to racing.

“I have to say hats off for this championship to get to where it is. It’s super equal, lap-time-wise, very equal. Big compliment for that. We would like to race a bit more. We would have a bit more racy car to go into the final. Otherwise you make a small wiggle, as you saw on my restart, into Turn 1, they just blow by on the straights. We’re fast enough in the corners, but not on the straight.”

The Cadillac’s pace has been demonstrated well this season, with Cadillac Racing having the top qualifying time in the first four races of the year. Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R took pole for the first three races of the season; Bourdais took the fourth at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. But only one of those produced a victory, with van der Zande and Bourdais taking victory over Derani and Jack Aitken on a tire strategy call at Long Beach. In six races, Porsche has three wins, and Acura two, to Cadillac’s one.

Both Cadillacs had the lead at a point during the race, van der Zande seizing the point at the start before ceding it to a charging Phil Hanson in the JDC-Miller MotorSports 963. In the second hour, Jack Aitken made an impressive move around the outside of Turn 7 on then-leader Philipp Eng in the No. 24 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8 to take the lead, although he gave it back with a half-spin later.

For the final restart at Watkins Glen, van der Zande was third behind Louis Delétraz in the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 and Nasr. The Acura seemed to have struggled on starts and restarts all day, and both Nasr and van der Zande were by quickly. But while the gap ebbed and flowed through traffic, van der Zande could never get enough of a run on Nasr to make a solid attempt at a pass. Conversely, Mathieu Jaminet, who pushed the No. 6 PPM 963 past Delétraz into third a short time later, couldn’t seem to close the gap to van der Zande.

As for the Balance of Performance, on paper the difference is pretty small. For Watkins Glen, Cadillac’s minimum weight was 1kg more than the Porsche, 1047kg to 1046kg. The heavier Porsche had 1 more kW in the power department, 511 for the Cadillac to 512kW for the Porsche. Of course, there’s a lot more to top speed than just power-to-weight ratio, and nobody but the manufacturers’ and teams’ respective engineers know how setup choices such as downforce and rake affect the drag coefficient.

Whatever the cause, it’s enough to push the No. 01 Cadillac drivers to voice their concern.

“I think I’ll just echo what Renger is saying,” added Bourdais. “Pretty much for the third weekend in a row – Detroit, Le Mans and this one – we don’t have any top speed to allow us to race and fight. I’m tired of it. We’re not asking for lap time or performance, but we need something to be done here. It’s just not a fair fight.”

Story originally appeared on Racer