At the Daytona 240 earlier this month, the turbocharged Mazdas and Acuras outpaced all the Cadillacs in qualifying, and Mazda went on to score a 1-2 finish, much quicker than the Cadillacs as soon as the initially wet track started to dry, and notably faster on the flat-out blasts on the oval section of the track.
Bourdais, who along with Joao Barbosa was able to repeat the Mustang Sampling entry’s Rolex 24 Hours finish of third place with a charging drive in the race’s final hour, explained that both drag and extra weight are costing the Cadillacs on pace.
“I don’t know what the strengths are of the other manufacturers,” he said, “but I do feel like there’s definitely an argument to be made for the BoP being re-centered a little bit.
“Personally, I’d like to see the cars being on the same weight – that would be a plus. There’s 30 kilos [66lbs] extra on the Cadillacs right now. We probably have quite a bit more downforce to make up for that weight which isn’t necessary.
“There’s a lot of things that are very difficult when there’s not a single parameter between power and weight, downforce and drag, that is in line. How do you set the bar? There needs to be a serious discussion about that and not only look at laptimes but try to make the cars race a bit better.
“If you look at Daytona, we clearly had more downforce but we were also very much down on top speed. And it’s not something we can change because you’re allowed a minimum wing angle. So you’re very restricted but you’re trying to equalize things, so it’s a tricky equation.
JDC-Miller, the only Cadillac team with two entries, has hired Stephen Simpson as Tristan Vautier’s partner in its #85 car for this race, while Bourdais and Barbosa continue as usual in the #5 Mustang Sampling machine.
Speaking specifically about JDC-Miller, Bourdais said: “I think we just need to make the car better, find mechanical grip and then execute. I think so far the Cadillac has been proving very reliable and it’s a very fun car to drive, so I’m very much looking forward to doing more of it.”
Regarding any Cadillac’s chances against Mazda and Acura in the 2hr40min race, he commented: “I think if we’re heavy on downforce it should help but I just don’t know where the other guys are downforce-wise. If they are capable of piling on as much downforce as we do and we just have that extra 30 kilos on the car then it’s going to be a struggle.
“But it’s tough to compare because I haven’t been there and so I don’t know how it’s going to translate on the track.
“A lot of adjustments have been made on the BoP, somewhat because some people were struggling with reliability. Now everybody seems to be fairly reliable, it’s maybe time to rethink it a little bit.”
IMSA’s first free practice for the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring runs on Friday from 6.00pm until 7.00pm ET, FP2 is Saturday 10.00-11.15am, qualifying is 1.55-3.00pm, and the race is 5.35-8.15pm.