Le Mans on the road: Cadillac unveils the elegant and hybrid Project GTP Hypercar | Automatic functions

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WARREN, Mich. — The Cadillac DPi-VR prototype won the final IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Race at Belle Isle, edging out the rest of the field on Saturday with its pinging V-8 engine. Cadillac on Thursday revealed plans to return to an all-new downtown circuit in 2023 with an all-new, third-generation racer.

The GTP Hypercar project presents a mid-engine missile that will be sleek, electrified and still powered by a V8.

The first hybrid race car from General Motors’ luxury brand, the Hypercar will carry the Caddy flag across multiple continents as it competes for the IMSA title in North America as well as the World Endurance Championship of FIA. Unlike Cadillac production cars from the 2023 Lyriq, the Hypercar will not be all-electric. It will instead feature an electric motor-assisted 5.5-liter DOHC V8 replacing the last-generation pushrod 6.2-liter V8.

“We want fans to know performance isn’t going away” as Cadillac switches to battery power, Hypercar lead designer Chris Mikalauskas said during a media preview at GM’s Warren Design Dome ahead of Thursday’s global reveal. “Cadillac will continue to produce cool cars in the future.”

The V8-powered factory matches the brand’s current V-Series lineup: the CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing sports sedans as well as the crazy 682-hp Escalade-V SUV.

The Caddy will compete against some of the world’s elite performance brands in the new Hypercar category, including Acura, BMW, Ferrari and Porsche. Lamborghini and Peugeot are also set to join overseas. The competitive series is a throwback to the golden age of 1960s racing, when Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Ford, Lola and Porsche battled it out for international sports car racing supremacy.

The long, muscular shape of the Hypercar is a great canvas for brands to showcase their unique designs. Porsche, BMW and Acura have already unveiled their concepts.

Like the current Batmobile-like DPi-VR, Caddy’s GTP Hypercar promises one of the most dynamic shapes in the field.

Slightly longer and wider than the current DPi-VR, GTP Hypercar maintains a familiar profile with a narrow greenhouse, high wheel arches, rear sail and raised rear wing. By coordinating with Italian chassis manufacturer Dallara from the start, the designers were able to incorporate the Caddy design cuties.

The vertical headlights echo the Lyriq EV, while the front nose comes to a point like the Cadillac shield. It sniffs the pavement above a wide airfoil that draws air under the car for downforce. GM sports car racing boss Laura Klauser said manufacturers will have some leeway to shape that airflow underneath.

Draped over large 18-inch wheels, the fenders are more sculpted than the current DPi-VR racer. The Hypercar concept sports distinctive fins fore and aft of the cockpit.

At the rear, the giant wing works with a rear diffuser for downforce. They are finished with thin vertical lights that echo those of an Escalade-V, for example. Blade-thin, they will undergo the durability test when the car begins testing this month.

The Hypercar program has a short development window before its first race at Daytona in January. Along with winning Daytona four times in a row from 2017 to 2020, Caddy has won the IMSA Championship three times, including last year.

Expect the new V-8’s song to be a little different from the throaty roar of the 2022 car’s 6.2-liter pushrod V-8. overhead cams like the treble grinder of the Corvette C8.R race car.

Each manufacturer can bring their own engines into battle, but in order to reduce costs and encourage close competition, the hybrid engine generation unit and control system are made by Bosch and shared by all teams. The same goes for the Xtrac drivetrain, while the battery system comes from Williams Engineering in England.

As well as competing for IMSA and WEC titles, automakers will compete to win the two most prestigious endurance races in motorsport: the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. These awards have attracted the best teams to manage race cars – titans like Penske (Porsche) and Chip Ganassi (Cadillac), who have also long been rivals in IndyCar.

“To compete for overall victory at Le Mans with an iconic American brand is an honor,” said Klauser. “The entire team is thrilled to continue building Cadillac’s racing heritage in the world’s toughest race.”

The rear-drive Hypercar project also gives a nod to the first Cadillac to grace the Le Mans circuit in 1950 – the so-called Le Monster. The new runner wears the same styled 2 on the side as the ’50 Caddy.

Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpaynedetroitnews.com or Twitter HenryEPayne.

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