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DETROIT – Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell are ready to put their CTS-V Coupes on the new track in Austin, Texas for this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Series Cadillac Sports Car Challenge at the new Circuit of the America’s (COTA).
Coming off of mixed results at Long Beach with Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) finishing second and O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) missing the win by five turns, finishing eighth, the duo is beaming with excitement to run the COTA track. The facility was just completed less than a year ago and hosted Formula One in its inaugural event. The series will run the COTA short version, National Course, which measures 2.3-miles and 17 turns. The CTS-V crew will run a double race weekend with 50-minute races on Saturday and Sunday.
Pilgrim has had some laps around the new track located just 15 miles south of Austin.
“I have driven COTA during one of our Cadillac V-Series Performance events last December,” Pilgrim said. “I also did some rounds in the race car to give some demonstration laps which was really useful. I think the shorter track should be good for us.”
The COTA circuit mirrors those in Europe.
“We expect the Audi and Mercedes will be very quick at COTA,” he continued. “These cars were developed on Europe’s billiard table smooth tracks just like COTA, but I think we will not be far off and I’m looking forward to the race weekend. There is plenty of run off on this track compared to the street courses, but I really think a fast lap is going to be a smooth lap, I don’t think you can attack this place too much and be quick. The complex layout of the multi-apex turns and multi-turn complexes demand that you are inch perfect.”
Pilgrim already has developed an affinity for the new track.
“No doubt my favorite turn is the double apex fast right hander turns 16, 17 and 18 on the track map,” he said. “t’s listed as three apexes, but in reality, its one double apex turn; I like it as it’s really quick.”
O’Connell also has a few parade laps around COTA.
“I went to COTA on Bondurant Racing School business back in November,” O’Connell said. “I am really looking forward to racing there this weekend. It is great that the World Challenge Series is running at COTA.”
The Georgia resident has mixed feelings on running the National Course with the biggest field of the year.
“We are running the shorter course,” added O’Connell. “We are not running the long straights, which would have been nice to draft down. I am not sure where we are at on the long straights, compared with the competition, as this is our first natural terrain race of the year. Add 50 cars on the short course and that can be chaos. Without the walls like the street courses, sometimes that makes a lot of guys to do some things that they would not do on a street course.”
O’Connell needs a solid result this weekend.
“After my heart-breaking near win at Long Beach I really need a set of good finishes this weekend,” he said. “The series is so competitive you can’t really afford to drop a race. We also have the big Detroit race up next after COTA, but we are not looking ahead.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will run the Cadillac Sports Car Challenge at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, May 17-19. The race will be televised on NBC Sports, Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring can be streamed from world-challenge.com.
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