An IMSA-sanctioned test session for the new Grand Touring Prototype class was conducted at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta race circuit on Monday, October 3. First to hit the 2.54-mile-long track for three days of testing were the Cadillac V-LMDh and the BMW M Hybrid V8.
“We really wanted to be the first ones on track,” said Connor De Phillippi, one of the drivers for BMW M Team RLL. “That was going to be a little win, considering we had the least amount of miles (before Monday) and we were probably the last to the party. We were trying to be the first on track to make a bold statement.”
Cadillac V-LMDh test driver Pipo Derani added, “It’s a big step for everyone involved – for all the manufacturers and teams to take on this new challenge. Every time you move into a new technology, there are big things to learn and many things to accomplish. When you put the size of the project in comparison to the time you have to run, it makes things more difficult for everyone involved. Nevertheless, it’s a great challenge to have. The sport is heading into a promising new era.”
Also taking part in the test session was Acura in the company’s ARX-06 race car. Porsche, the fourth GTP manufacturer that will compete in 2023, was not testing at Road Atlanta this time around.
“Everyone has a lot of confidence that we can operate at this level, but this is a whole new ballgame,” said Tom Blomqvist, test driver of the Acura ARX-06. “There’s a lot more manufacturer involvement across the grid. It’s going to be very competitive.”
During the test program, teams were aiming to ensure the reliability of their vehicles prior to entering the 2023 season with its new regulations. Despite this, lap times were recorded for comparison against rival manufacturer’s teams.
“Today was all about getting mileage,” said Brandon Fry, technical and race operations director, BMW M Team RLL. “Certainly, as the drivers had more time in the car, the times came down. All the cars looked like they were pretty close together. It’s nice to see right out of the box that everybody is pretty close.”
Sebastien Bourdais, another Cadillac Racing V-LMDh test driver, said, “The car is powerful. It’s making close to 700hp, obviously, but when you couple that with quite a bit less downforce – like significantly less downforce – it’s definitely a car that gives you a run for your money. You have to work at it.
“You’ve got some good mechanical grip, but then the weight negates that some. Aero-wise, you get there pretty quick but then you can’t lean on the aero quite as much. You get there fast, but it’s a bit harder to stop. When you get to the corner, you’ve got to stop it more. It’s definitely a car that keeps you awake.”