All roads lead to Daytona Beach, Florida, and the 62nd Rolex 24 At Daytona, where Cadillac Racing will seek to win against a strong field.
But first there is a test this weekend at Daytona.
The prelude to the Jan. 27-28 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening event is this weekend’s Roar Before The Rolex 24, which includes a 15-minute GTP qualifying session Jan. 21 to set the field for the twice-around-the-clock test on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway course.
“I hit the reset button the Monday after the IMSA banquet in October,” said Chris Mitchum, director of race team operations for Action Express Racing that runs the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R. “You always want to improve and it’s not only with the car.”
Knowledge, data acquisition, contingency preparation, communication and a host of other crucial elements were gleaned from the first season of competition, which early on had been an extension of testing the new racecar.
“There has been a huge advantage from where we were 12 months ago to where we are now,” Mitchum said. “In racing years – if you can compare it to dog years – I think we’ve achieved at least three years’ worth of work in one year’s worth of time across the Cadillac program. We’re equally prepared to go to Daytona now as we were in every other championship year we’ve had.”
Cadillac has won the overall Rolex 24 title four times since the inception of the DPi era. Van der Zande is a two-time winner (2019, 2020) with Cadillac Racing, while third-year teammate Bourdais is also a double winner (2014, 2017). Blomqvist, endurance driver for the championship-winning No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R, has won the Rolex 24 the past two years. He drove to the pole in 2023.
“The 01 Cadillac team is anxious to kick off the 2024 IMSA Weathertech season. We are ready to build on our Rolex 24 At Daytona success with the Cadillac V-Series.R after finishing third and fourth there in its debut race in 2023,” said Mike O’Gara, director of operation and race strategist for the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R run by Chip Ganassi Racing.
“It has been a few years since Chip Ganassi Racing has won overall at Daytona, but we feel confident that we can compete for another win and add to our eight victories there. We have been working hard in the offseason at the racetrack testing, as well in the race shop, to be ready. It’s exciting to be returning with our IMSA veteran drivers Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais, and it is great to have Scott Dixon back again and then with a pleasant surprise in being able to add Alex Palou to lineup this year, as well. Having the opportunity to work with drivers, engineers and a crew of this caliber is an honor.”
Qualifying Jan. 21 will be streamed on Peacock and IMSA.com beginning at 1:55 p.m. ET.
Cadillac Racing Roar Before The Rolex 24 roster
No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R: Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou
Van der Zande and Bourdais are in their third season as teammates for the full IMSA Grand Touring Prototype season. They won the IMSA GTP race at Laguna Seca in May 2023 and teamed with six-time INDYCAR champion Dixon to place third in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and runner-up in the season-concluding Petit Le Mans. The trio also finished fourth overall in the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. … Bourdais, van der Zande and Dixon are Cadillac Racing teammates for the Rolex 24 for the third consecutive year. … In 2022, van der Zande and Bourdais co-drove the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R to three victories — at Long Beach, at Belle Isle and at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park — starting from the pole in the former two. … Laguna Seca 2023 was the 19th IMSA victory for van der Zande and 11th for Bourdais. … Bourdais is a four-time INDYCAR champion. … van der Zande is in his 11th season of IMSA competition. … Palou is the reigning and two-time INDYCAR champion. He teamed with the stellar trio in 2022 for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. In total, the lineup represents 12 IndyCar championships.
No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R: Pipo Derani, Jack Aitken, Tom Blomqvist
Derani is reigning and two-time IMSA Driver champion. He teamed with Aitken and Alexander Sims to win the 2023 Michelin IMSA Endurance Championship. … The trio co-drove to victory March 18 in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The No. 31 Cadillac started from the pole. Also earned pole at Road America. … They also placed 10th in the Hypercar class in the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans. … Derani is in his sixth season with Action Express and Cadillac Racing. … Derani, who has four overall wins at Sebring, has 12 IMSA wins and eight poles. … Aitken, a Williams F1 reserve driver in 2020-22, moves to full-season driver in 2024. … Blomqvist, the 2022 IMSA DPi Driver champion, won the 2023 and 2022 overall Rolex 24 titles and drove to 2023 pole start. … He will compete in endurance races for the team in addition to a full-time INDYCAR schedule. … Action Express Racing has earned IMSA Team and Driver Championships in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021 and 2023 as well as securing the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2023 Endurance Championships titles.