The Cadillac brand could be set to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans thanks to the new converged Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh) regulations that will be implemented from the 2023 IMSA season onward.
In an interview with Motorsport.com this week, GM sportscar program manager Laura Wontrop-Klauser said General Motors is still deciding on whether or not it will continue racing prototypes beyond the 2022 season. If it does give Cadillac the green light to begin developing a new prototype racecar based on the LMDh regulations, which allow for LMDh cars to race alongside the top-tier Hypercar class in the FIA World Endurance Championship, then the brand would likely want to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, she said.
“It will depend on if we are going down that path with Cadillac and the programme goals, but there are going to be some discussions about how to get to a certain big race that happens in France once a year,” Klauser said this week while at the Circuit de la Sarthe. “If that is part of the requirement, then we need to make the decision on how important it is that we are here. Historically, I would say pretty important.”
Cadillac last raced at Le Mans in 2002 through the ill-fated Cadillac Northstar LMP program, which was discontinued at the end of that season. The Northstar LMP achieved a best result of ninth at Le Mans and consistently struggled for pace compared to entries from Audi, Bentley, Oreca and others. But while the brand has a somewhat troubled history at Le Mans, it sees a future entry as a potential way to advertise to European customers. The brand only sells one vehicle in Europe at the moment, the Cadillac XT4 crossover, although that could be set to change once it begins releasing more battery-electric models.
“To have the opportunity to complement (European car sales) with a race programme is always exciting, but that decision hasn’t been firmed up yet,” Klauser said.
The current situation facing Corvette Racing is complicating matters at Cadillac. With IMSA abandoning the GTE-based GTLM regulations at the end of this year, Corvette will have to develop a new version of the Corvette C8.R that adheres to GT3 regulations. This could be a costly endeavour for Chevy and may force it to choose between racing Cadillac prototypes, or continuing with the Corvette GT programs. GM will race the Corvette C8.R in the IMSA series on a special waiver for 2022, but beyond that, it will have to field a true GT3-spec car.
For now, GM is holding off on making any major announcements with regard to its racing future at both Chevy and Cadillac.
“As soon as we are ready to say we are good to go, the announcements will be made,” Klauser said.