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Cadillac reveals DPi car ahead of IMSA comeback in 2017

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Cadillac has revealed its new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car ahead of its return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017.

Cadillac will return to the premier class of an IMSA-sanctioned series in 2017 after 14 years away, supplying cars to Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing.

The American manufacturer revealed renders of its new DPi car on Wednesday as the countdown continues until its race debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

Here is the release in full from IMSA.

“Cadillac is proud to return to the pinnacle of prototype racing in North America after a 14-year absence.”

Those were the words used by Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen to confirm that three Cadillac Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race cars will compete in the full 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype (P) class, beginning with the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29, 2017. The new car will be known as the Cadillac DPi-V.R and is the first prototype race car from the New York-headquartered manufacturer since 2002.

“It is not possible to overstate how thrilled all of us at IMSA are to officially welcome Cadillac, one of the world’s most respected premium automotive brands, back to Prototype racing in the WeatherTech Championship,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “This is exactly the type of program we had in mind when we announced the Daytona Prototype international concept last year.

“As we open a new era of Prototype competition in 2017, we now have three benchmark examples of manufacturers using this platform to showcase their impressive and unique technology at the highest level. We cannot wait to get the new era underway in just a few short weeks at Daytona.”

The manufacturer confirmed that Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing each will field Cadillac DPi-V.R machines next season. Action Express, which has won the last three WeatherTech Championship Prototype titles, will have a pair of Cadillacs, while the Wayne Taylor Racing team continues its longstanding relationship with General Motors through a one-car effort.

“Cadillac’s V-Performance production models — the ATS-V and CTS-V — are transforming our brand’s product substance, earning a place among the world’s elite high performance marques,” de Nysschen said. “The Cadillac DPi-V.R further strengthens our V-Performance portfolio, placing Cadillac into the highest series of sports car racing in North America.”

The Cadillac DPi-V.R will be powered by a normally aspirated, 6.2-liter Cadillac V-8 engine, which shares inherent architecture with engines that power the third-generation Cadillac CTS-V and fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade production vehicles. The chassis for the Cadillac DPi-V.R was designed in cooperation with Dallara with styling cues inspired by Cadillac’s current line of V-Performance high-performance production models, specifically the Cadillac CTS-V.

“The DPi-V.R race car was an exciting new canvas for the Cadillac design and sculpting team,” said Andrew Smith, Global Cadillac Design executive director. “The studio embraced the opportunity to interpret the Cadillac form language, line work and graphic signature for this premier prototype racing application. Every detail of the final design was selected to support the car’s on-track performance and unmistakable Cadillac presence.”

The new Cadillac DPi-V.R will make its public on-track debut during a two-day IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 13-14.

Cadillac joins Mazda and Nissan as confirmed DPi manufacturers for IMSA’s top Prototype class, which also will include international LM P2 prototype chassis from Riley/Multimatic, Ligier, ORECA and Dallara, powered by single-specification Gibson V8 engines.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994