For the first time since its LeMans effort in 2002, Cadillac will field a purpose-built race car in an endurance series. The Cadillac DPi-V.R will compete in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype International series and will make its debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on Jan. 28-29.
“Cadillac is proud to return to the pinnacle of prototype racing in North America after a 14-year absence,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen in a statement. “The Cadillac DPi-V.R further strengthens our V-Performance portfolio, placing Cadillac into the highest series of sports car racing in North America.”
The V-performance brand – including high-octane beasts like the ATS-V and CTS-V – are a key part of Cadillac’s efforts to compete as a performance luxury brand against the Teutonic trio of BMW, Audi and Mercedes. None of those marques have announced an entry in the Daytona Prototype class next year.
Cadillac’s Northstar LMP prototype racing had disappointing results in its three years competing in the American LeMans Series and against Audi at the 24 Hours of LeMans, France from 2000-2002. Audi dominated the 2002 race with Cadillac finishing ninth.
The Daytona Prototype class will be the fastest cars in the Weathertech Series – lightweight thoroughbreds motivated by 600 horsepower. GM will continue to field its production-based Corvette C7-R in the GTLM class, which Corvette won in 2016.
Weathertech runs 12 races across the country, including a stop at Belle Isle in Detroit from June 2-3, where the Cadillac will be competing the day before Sunday’s 2017 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Tickets are on sale at www.DetroitGP.com.
Detroit automakers like Ford and GM have historically used racing as a performance halo to sell its productions vehicles. Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of its 1966 LeMans win this year by entering – and winning – the GT class with its Ford GT racer.
Cadillac will compete in IMSA against manufacturer entries from Mazda and Nissan as well as private teams using approved chassis from Riley/Multimatic, Ligier, ORECA and Dallara, powered by single-specification Gibson V8 engines.
The Mazda effort was revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month.
The 2,050-pound Caddy prototype will be managed by the Wayne Taylor Racing Team but was designed in-house. Based on the Dallara chassis but with unique Cadillac bodywork, the Dpi-V.R incorporates familiar brand design elements like a vertical lighting signature, chiseled features – even the rear-camera mirror first introduced on the full-size CT6 sedan. It will be powered by a 600-horsepower version of GM’s familiar, push-rod 6.2-liter V-8 engine found in everything from the CTS-V sedan to Corvette.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.