Cadillac and Porsche will join Acura and BMW when the WeatherTech Championship’s new top-level prototype class debuts in January in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, with Lamborghini set to join in 2024. The manufacturers are testing on their own now, with series-mandated testing for everyone scheduled following the 2022 season.
The significance of the GTP debut isn’t lost on anyone – especially the drivers.
“It’s going to be a golden era for motorsports in general with all the brands that are going to join,” Vanthoor said. “We haven't seen it in more than 20 years. I hope it's going to last long and makes it even better to be a part of it. Those who will win the big races in the championships, they will have won something really special.”
One of the more intriguing aspects of the Sebring test was the cooperation between the two participants. The LMDh cars being developed for the GTP class marry each manufacturer’s engine and bodywork styling to a shared hybrid platform. Engineers from Cadillac and Porsche exchanged data from the hybrid system, helping both manufacturers come to grips with its intricate personality.
“Two cars running is always better than one,” said Jonathan Diuguid, managing director of Porsche Penske Motorsport. “The manufacturers really bought into this shared hybrid platform, and it's not developed just for our cars.
“It’s developed for Cadillac and all these other manufacturers that are joining the program. To see one of our manufacturer partners and competitors on the track at the same time is really exciting for everybody involved. We really welcome it. To be honest, we've been waiting for it for a long time.”
Waiting, in part, because the knowledge gained from racing translates to a brand’s production vehicles. The future of the automobile is electric, and the knowledge gained from racing in the new GTP class will go back into what the manufacturers sell in the showroom.
“It's giving us a chance to move toward the future for automation, which is what we're doing in our own company,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, General Motors’ sports car program manager. “We're transitioning to our electric future at General Motors. Any time you can use racing to help develop your production components, that's great.
“Even though this is a hybrid system and not fully EV (electric vehicle), we're still using an electric motor and we have a very intricate controlled system, which is all good learning that will go back to production.”
The initial feedback is quietly optimistic. A mountain remains to be climbed, but early steps through the foothills are promising. Just ask Cameron’s engineers.
“They know me, they trust me, they know what my feedback is and if I'm happy or unhappy,” Cameron said. “That's just helping us make some strides even quicker.”