Cadillac’s new LMDh-based “Project GTP Hypercar” prototype has curves, fins, blades, light shows and a rumbling V8 soundtrack to bring the General Motors brand into the future and back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with IMSA.
The hybrid GTP machine unveiled Thursday offers a visual leap in incorporating Cadillac street car styling elements into its halo creation for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship. Within the GM Racing family, the last factory prototype to carry such strong street-based styling cues was found in the mid-1980s in the Hendrick Motorsports fielded Corvette GTP.
“It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s gorgeous – as Cadillac as we could make it,” GM Sportscar Race Director Laura Wontrop Klauser told RACER. “I think one of the most exciting things about the regulations was how open they were to the OEM to put their own styling on the car. They started with DP and I think we were all thrilled with how this car came out. But now having so much more opportunity to change things and modify surfaces, to make them our own and then of course to put our own heartbeat into it – that’s the recipe for success because it allows us to show something that represents our brand well and really get people excited about the showroom cars.
“Yes, we are currently not selling anything that looks like it [the new GTP]. However, you can see his brothers and sisters in it. And what’s really cool is that it also sets the tone for the future of Cadillac design. So we complement what we have today and prepare you for what is to come tomorrow.”
From the treatment of the nose and grille to the continued use of Vs in the wheels – in homage to Cadillac’s high-performance V-Series models – much thought has gone into the GTP’s looks without sacrificing its ability to increase downforce and aerodynamic stability generate.
“The vertical fins on the car are a homage to the tail fins that we used to have on Cadillacs,” added Klauser. “We wanted to reference our story, but we gave it a new twist, an updated version where they’re now 180 degrees on the car, giving it that futuristic look. There’s also a lot of Cadillac in the way the body lines are cut; You can see it’s a perfect combination of sharp lines and rounded corners that just scream how we make Cadillac.”
Chris Mikalauskas, Cadillac’s Lead Exterior Creative Designer, is responsible for the GTP’s street-car inspired treatments.
“Chris said one of his favorite parts of the car is just the way the body comes together on the side and I agree. And then the shape of the front, where the nose is, definitely pays homage to Cadillac design,” noted Klauser. “And of course the vertical lights on both the front and back of the car are a strong reflection of what we have in today’s cars and also in the cars of our past. There are Easter eggs everywhere and we’re happy when everyone starts discovering things bit by bit.”
Turbocharging is a common theme with the new LMDh/GTP models entering the race in 2023, but Cadillac has opted for a new version of the naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 found in the current Cadillac DPi-VR
“A lot was due to the timing,” said Klauser. “We made the decision to join the LMDh platform when it was announced and if you think about it, the Rolex 2021 was really not that long ago. We’re starting with a brand new engine, so we knew we had to make some decisions quickly, like what architecture to use. We drew on the heritage and history we have building race engines at GM to move fast and prepare for the very new variable, the hybrid system.
“We wanted to make sure that we set ourselves up for success with an engine that we can build amazingly and that we can make sure it’s bulletproof. So when we get to the new part, the hybrid, we can focus on that and the integration of the two. For endurance racing, it’s really important that you have bulletproof hardware. With the addition of this extra complication and technology of the hybrid system, it became crucial that we feel comfortable with the part of the car we’ve been working on for decades. We know how to put engines on race cars so we can focus on the new part and make sure we have all our time and attention on it.”
As a technology driven company, it was an interesting and intense process to learn about the new 40hp energy recovery system from Bosch and Williams Advance Engineering and how it works with the 5.5L V8 in GM Racing’s dyno cells.
“It was definitely an adventure,” confirmed Klauser. “The learning is constant – you learn things that have nothing to do with driving the race car. There’s a lot of parts here that come with it, and I think it brings a little bit of novelty to this job. It’s definitely a puzzle that GM hasn’t worked on yet. So it gives us an opportunity to dip our toe in the water of something else, because it’s allowed us to bring different types of people into the team, people whose backgrounds may not have worked on the hybrid and the control side of things has and that’s great. It brings diversity to the group, which is fantastic.”
With two Cadillac GTPs committed to the IMSA New Year, as Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing each provide one, and a works GTP to race in the FIA WEC Hypercar class via Ganassi’s team, Klauser says that Cadillac will open its account in both series full works programs. Selling the hybrid prototype to independent team owners could be the next phase of the program.
“For next year we will continue with the two teams that we announced at this point,” she confirmed. “Between the supply chain [problems] and just generally getting a new program up and running, it really doesn’t make sense to add others to the group. As you can imagine, each team you add is a lot of work, so it made sense to focus, get the car on the road and work with the two [teams] that we have established and then we can look and see what the future may hold from there. But right now, ’23 is what it is.”
#GTP #Cadillac #GMs #Klausler