The Northstar LMP engine is a product of GM's global motorsports program. While the changes in the body and chassis of the second-generation Le Mans Prototype are apparent, the modifications to the heavily revised powertrain are virtually invisible.
Power for the new Cadillac LMP will come from an updated version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter Northstar V8 racing engine. A revised induction system and redesigned cylinder heads will complement the 180-degree crankshaft and upgraded engine management system that were introduced in 2001. The engine has close ties to the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engines used by Opel in the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) road racing series and to the methanol-burning naturally aspirated 3.5-liter Chevy Indy V8 engine that is being introduced in the Indy Racing League (IRL) oval-track series in 2002.
The Northstar LMP engine is paired with a new six-speed sequential gearbox in 2002. Paddles mounted on the steering wheel activate gear changes through a pneumatic shifting mechanism.
Designed under the direction of GM Racing by Nigel Stroud, the Cadillac LMP's carbon fiber monocoque chassis and suspension components were fabricated in Brackley, England, and assembled at the team's headquarters near Atlanta. An extensive testing program is planned leading up the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15-16, 2002. The Cadillac LMP 02 will also compete in selected American Le Mans Series events in North America.
The Cadillac LMP 02's high nose directs airflow under the car while respecting the LMP rules that require a flat bottom between the front and rear wheels. This flat surface can, however, generate significant downforce through ground effect - the interaction between the moving vehicle and the fixed track surface. By shortening the wheelbase, undesirable changes in the vehicle's attitude are minimized, allowing the flat bottom to maintain a positive rake angle and produce consistent aero loads. Wind tunnel tests have demonstrated substantial improvements in both lift and drag over the first-generation LMP 01.