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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -Cadillac Racing driver Michael Cooper drove to a seventh place finish in the first of two Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship presented by Cadillac races today at Road America. O’Connell suffered an engine misfire believed to be from a throttle position sensor and was classified in 19th place.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) started today’s 50-minute race from the third row in fifth and sixth. At the drop of the green flag both Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe drivers looked to improve their positions. Cooper had a run on the outside of Turn 1 and was blocked going into Turn 3 sending him back to ninth. O’Connell was able to move up to fourth position, having an optimistic start. On lap four, O’Connell reported an engine misfire that proceeded to get worse, forcing him to drive around slowly to try and accumulate as many points as possible. The team believes the issue to be a malfunctioning throttle position sensor. Meanwhile Cooper was able to improve two positions to seventh when the checkered flag dropped.
“At the start the inside line got held up into Turn 1,” Cooper said. “I got a good run on the outside, up to about fourth. I was side-by-side with Pat Long going into Turn 3 and he didn’t give me any racing room that forced me back to ninth. The Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe was handling pretty good. I just didn’t have the big straight line power to keep in touch with the front runners.”
O’Connell’s quest for his fifth driver championship in as many years took a blow today.
“Even the best teams have days where things don’t go their way,” O’Connell said. “We picked up an engine misfire on lap four. Damn I had a good car. I was excited about the handling and I was feeling good about things early in the race. I was trying to keep it up there, but the misfire got worse and worse. The Cadillac Racing team will get it fixed and be ready for the 10:30 a.m. start tomorrow. I took a big hit in points toward the championship today, so we will just have to fight that much harder the rest of the season.”
The second race of the Pirelli World Challenge Road America Grand Prix presented by Cadillac weekend will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m. ET tomorrow and can be viewed via live stream at http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo/. The race will be televised on the CBS Sports Network on Sunday, July 3 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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