Last season, the combination of Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims helped the team capture the GTP title in the IMSA SportsCar Championship, with Jack Aitken joining the duo to secure the Endurance Cup.
This year’s full-time lineup will feature Derani and Aitken, replacing Sims, who departed for Corvette’s GTD program. Additionally, Tom Blomqvist, the 2022 IMSA DPi champion and two-time defending winner of the Daytona 24, will co-drive at endurance rounds that don’t clash with his upcoming rookie campaign in the IndyCar Series for Meyer Shank Racing.
Entering this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Chris Mitchum, director of operations for Action Express Racing that runs the factory program No. 31 Cadillac V-Series.R, believes the team’s program will be significantly different entering the second year of its GTP program.
“There is a huge advantage from where we were 12 months ago to where we are now,” Mitchum said.
“In racing years, if you can make the comparison to dog years, I think we’ve achieved at least three years’ worth of work in one years’ time across the entire Cadillac program. A tip of the cap to IMSA with how they structured everything.
“We’re equally prepared to go to Daytona now as we were in every other championship year we’ve had. “Everything that we can prepare in the shop – and it’s racing so you’re never done; you can always pick another layer of onion – but I’d say we’re further down the road in preparation not only compared to last year but further down the road in preparation than my expectations the Monday after the ’23 season ending.”
The six-time IMSA champions were already able to knock off some offseason rust and begin working with Blomqvist at last month’s Daytona, too.
“Anytime you’re able to get on track is a benefit because there are constant updates,” Mitchum said.
“You want to get to a track and get to a refresh point to where things are. For us, one of our biggest advantages at the December test was we were able to bring in Tom Blomqvist. For him to be able to learn the team, get the time on track with the car after being in the simulator, it allows us to go into the 24 with a team member who knows how we operate, knows the preparation. One comment I remember from Tom leaving the track was my guys always commented they never knew how they got out of the track before everybody else. I get it now.”
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
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And Mitchum isn’t shy about sharing his thoughts about how stout Action Express Racing’s driver lineup. “It’s fair to say it’s one of the best driver lineups we’ve had as a team,” Mitchum said.
“There is a definite relationship that was pre-existing between the three drivers at a friendship level and having a bit of understanding between each other. So, it’s not a completely new person to meet. I think any time on a team you can equalize that high level of competition among all three drivers, it’s amazing to watch how they raise their own game within their own team.
“The lap times may be the same, but they’re getting there in different ways. They can learn from each other to get faster, which every team looks for and hopes for. We’ve had that at times throughout our history, so I couldn’t be more excited to see it again.
“Tom’s professionalism, his demeanor, the other drivers being excited and respecting each other and wanting to move forward.”