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St. Petersburg, Fla. – Cadillac V-Performance Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y) finished race one of a weekend double-header in fourth and seventh respectively (unofficially) at the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT season opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Cooler temperatures in the mid-70s greeted the field of 25 GT and GTA racers for the 50-minute race to start the 2017 PWC season. At the drop of the green flag, O’Connell and Cooper were able to improve on their seventh and tenth place starting positions. On lap five the duo were running fifth and ninth when the races only full course caution flew. Nine laps later the race was restarted. The field settled in until lap 24 when Patrick Long drove his Porsche under O’Connell putting the driver of the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe in sixth, while teammate Cooper ran in ninth. On the last lap O’Connell was able to take advantage of action in front of him and make a two passes to take the checkered flag in fourth with Cooper coming home in ninth.
“I had some good racing with Patrick Long in the Porsche,” O’Connell said. “I gave him room to race and he was able to get by me into Turn One. He got by me once and went a little wide and I got the spot back and then he came back. It was a good hard race. We were able to move up, I started seventh and finished fourth. It is hard to say, I am not sure I was as good as that McLaren, but I liked my Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe today. We will take it. Each race is a lesson. I am so excited to be back representing Cadillac with the 2017 season underway!”
Cooper is happy with a strong seventh place finish and a good No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe for the second race tomorrow afternoon.
“I think we can be happy with seventh place,” Cooper said. “We were able to move up from our tenth spot on the grid. The car was pretty good overall, we will do some tweaking on it overnight to get it that much better for tomorrow. Coming out of the first race on a street course with a clean car and points is what matters this weekend.”
Race two of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Pete will take the green at 3:15 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon. The race can be viewed via live stream at http://bit.ly/2n6TZ8T. The weekend’s races will be televised on Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.
Cadillac Racing, since the team’s inception in 2004, has amassed 31 wins, 109 podium finishes (including wins) and 24 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Team Cadillac drivers have won the World Challenge Driver’s Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 with Johnny O’Connell.
Article by Kyle Chura
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