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SONOMA, Calif. – Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell will leave the Pirelli World Challenge GT Series race weekend at Sonoma Raceway with a slim 26 point lead in the GT Class with one race remaining after posting an eighth place finish today.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) took the standing start from ninth on the grid. As the lights went out, O’Connell was able to make up a position going into Turn 2 when a car spun in front of his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R and the pair had contact. The resulting contact affected the downforce of the ATS-V.R making it less than optimal for the remainder of the race.
Teammate Andy Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) started from the eighth position and also had contact going into Turn 2. He was able to come out of the melee in fifth position where he would eventually finish.
“I had a good start off of the line,” Pilgrim said. “I went right then Mike Skeen in the Audi went right, so I went left and then I got hit pretty hard going into Turn 2, put sideways. I was able to pass Montecalvo (Frank, No. 66 Mercedes) down in Turn 3. I slotted in behind Beretta (Olivier, No. 61 Ferrari) and then the yellow came out. When it went green I tried to get by Beretta to help Johnny’s cause. His car was good at the exit of the corners. I really couldn’t get close to make a move. Pretty frustrating.”
O’Connell will go into the final race of the weekend in two weeks at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca leading the GT points by 26 over Beretta.
“I had a good run up to Turn 2 at the start,” O’Connell said. “Andy and Skeen got together and I had light contact with him as well. The hit took off the dive-planes at the front of my car. My car was a little better yesterday. I didn’t leave anything on the table today. It would have been nice to protect my lead a little more than I did today. I will tell you it is a real seesaw of emotions. We run great at Miller last weekend and then struggle here. So we are coming down to a one race shootout in two weeks. Cadillac Racing will be ready.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the season finale to run Sept. 11-13. The races from Sonoma Raceway will be televised on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, September 6 at 5 p.m. ET.
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