Prior to their surprise victory at the Chevrolet Sports Classic on historic Belle Isle, the odds were stacked against the No. 1 Cadillac V-Performance Academy DPi and drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Renger van der Zande. Their season was anything but perfect, with the duo falling victim to various mechanical problems and even a few bad turns in fortune. Going into today’s race, there were some skeptics wondering whether Belle Isle would be the latest speedbump for their troubled car. However, thanks to a solid game plan and skilled driving, Renger van der Zande was able to pull it off in the closing minutes of the event.
Saving Fuel Pays Big Dividends
Bourdais and van der Zande entered today’s event with a simple strategy, minimizing the number of pit stops they would take with the team hoping to do only one pit stop for the entire event. The strategy appeared to pay off early on with Bourdais essentially leading the entire race before he switched with van der Zande.
Things got very interesting after that point, with van der Zande not only having to carefully manage his fuel supply on the 2.3 mile 14-turn street course but also holding off Oliver Jarvis and the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing With Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 DPi with Jarvis proving to be a formidable and persistent threat for the lead throughout the race. Jarvis and his co-driver Tod Blomqvist ultimately ended up with a second-place finish for their efforts. While that ruined Cadillac’s plans for a 1-2-3 sweep, the luxury brand did manage to nab third place with the help of Earl Bamber and co-driver Alex Lynn. The battle for third turned out to be just as exciting as the battle for first, with the duo having to hold off Pipo Derani who provided some exciting moments for the crowd in his attempts to snatch third. Derani and his co-driver finished fourth, but a post-race technical inspection by IMSA revealed that their No. 31 Cadillac was below the weight limit and that caused them to get punted into 6th place.
Chip Ganassi Records 63rd Win
In addition to the event being completed without a full-course caution for the first time ever on Belle Isle (ironically on the last race to be held there.) team owner Chip Ganassi recorded his 63rd IMSA win with the No.1’s victory. Ganassi was candid when asked about the troublesome race car saying “It seems like it’s feast or famine for the (No. 1)” “they either win or something stupid happens.” In this case, lady luck was on the team’s side and it will be interesting to see if Ganassi and his drivers can build on this momentum and win future races.
Ganassi won’t have to wait very long to try and go back to back with his drivers. The next race in the IMSA Weathertech Championship series is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen raceway June 23-26 and it will be a race where all five car classes will compete (today’s event only showcased two classes DPi and the GT Daytona Class.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.