|The 24 Hours|
|Dark Horse Power|
|GM held an American style barbecue on Friday afternoon, sadly without barbecue weather. But it did give Peter Radcliffe a chance to speak with the main characters in the Cadillac team. |
Max Angelelli was bullish about the team's prospects.
"One of us will finish in the top six," he replied. "Three Audis and one Bentley will finish for sure. Rain could be a factor and we've had lots of rain in testing, so we'll be OK. Audi's wet performance at the Nurburgring showed up a possible weakness for them."
Jeff Hazell, Cadillac's team manager, has a hugely impressive CV including five years as team manager for Frank Williams, two years with Lola, six years as MD of Spice Engineering, and nine years as director of the McLaren road - then race - F1 GTR.
I asked Jeff what was good from last year's car and how much had been carried over to the 2001 car.
"The airjacks were good and, oh yes, the wheels are OK!" In reality, time has been a major factor so the monocoques and roll-hoops have been retained.
Three cars have been built and the test car has completed over 11,000 kilometres. Around a third of their testing has been in the wet. That could be invaluable with the weather forecast for the race looking gloomy.
So what kind of race pace can we expect from the Cadillacs. "I think about a 3:43", replied Hazell, "but it could be lower. The drivers will settle in to what they find comfortable."
The future? Wind tunnel testing is on-going for the new car, and they have a new monocoque designed. Did they have any Cadillac corporate styling requirements to incorporate? "The only design requirement from Cadillac is to win," was Hazell's response.
This is DAMS' last race for Cadillac, after Le Mans the current test team in the USA will also become the race team. They plan a further five races in the States this year. The French team will be keen to shine on home ground - with a wet race in prospect, could they be a dark horse?
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