Cadillac V-Performance Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y) are returning for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT season. Joining the duo will be Jordan Taylor (Orlando, Fla.) and Ricky Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) for the five SprintX rounds behind the wheel of the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe.
The Taylor brothers are celebrating an exciting IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona where they drove the all-new Cadillac DPi-V.R prototype to the overall victory. The PWC season will open with a sprint round in the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida at the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 10-12.
O’Connell is coming off a three-race win season in 2016 (wins at Circuit of the Americas, two at Sonoma Raceway) and, a pole position (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca). O’Connell is a four-time PWC GT driver champion and drives the Velocity Red No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. Teammate Cooper posted two wins last year (Barber Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio) and, a pole at Barber Motorsport Park. Cooper will start his sophomore season with his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R in a new Vector Blue livery.
Jordan and Ricky Taylor will join the team for the PWC SprintX rounds. The SprintX rounds will take place at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park, Utah Motorsports Campus and the Circuit of the Americas. The dynamic of two-driver racing in the PWC series is an exciting prospect for the four Cadillac drivers. Driver pairings for the SprintX opening round at VIR, April 28-30 are forth coming.
“I’m very much looking forward to the 2017 PWC season,” O’Connell said. “We had one bad weekend last year, that really cost us, and I’ve been training hard all winter looking for some redemption. Ricky and Jordan are doing a great job proving themselves on the world stage, especially with that great win at Daytona two weeks ago. I am very much looking forward to working with them this season in the SprintX races. Amazing strides have been made the last several years in PWC that have made it a destination for top drivers. I plan to keep an open mind heading into the first SprintX round at VIR in April.”
Cooper is anxious for the season to start and to drive with Ricky and Jordan.
“I’ve been counting down the days to the start of the season, so it’s nice that it is almost here,” Cooper said. “Being back with Cadillac Racing is still very exciting to me and I can’t wait to get my sophomore season in the GT class started. I’ve already heard of some other high caliber efforts being launched for this year, which is great news. I think we are going to see the competition take another step up in PWC, which means it will be that much more exciting to watch. All of the Cadillac fans should be as excited as I am to have Jordan and Ricky with us for the SprintX races this year. Jordan has tested with us numerous times the last few years, so I’m sure they’ll slot right in and make their presence known. For anybody that has been living under a rock, they bring a wealth of endurance experience, having won the Rolex 24 and competing at Le Mans. They are a perfect fit for Cadillac Racing’s SprintX program.
“The new Vector Blue livery on my No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe really makes a statement. It screams performance! I fell in love with the color when I saw it for the first time on the ATS-V street car. I’ve seen some teaser pictures of the race car and when I saw it in person it looked even better.”
Ricky Taylor is looking forward to running in a sprint format again.
“I am extremely excited to share the ATS-V.R with the guys,” Ricky Taylor said. “I have always been a huge fan of the ATS-V.R program and of Johnny and Michael so getting a chance to contribute to the team and hopefully another championship is a great opportunity. I haven’t done a real sprint race in quite a few years now so it is very exciting. It will be more like a qualifying session than what I am used to, where tire wear is not a factor and the race is flat out from start to finish. I think it will be a different mindset than I am used to. While we have to be aggressive and track position is important, we still have to give the car off to our teammate in good condition to go win the race. Three of the five tracks where we race this year in PWC are places that I really miss going to. Lime Rock is an extra special one for me as I have won there 3 times and it was my first professional win while driving with Max Angelelli. But they are all great circuits and all present very different challenges.”
Jordan Taylor is excited about running at VIR and Lime Rock again.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in the Cadillac ATS-V.R,” Jordan Taylor said. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been with the team in competition, but I’ve always kept in contact and kept my eye on them during their race weekends. I’ve known and driven with Johnny since 2011 and Michael since 2013. They’ve both won championships and races in World Challenge, so I’m looking forward to driving alongside them and learning more from them. These races have more of a sprint race feel from what we’re used to. Our shortest race is 100 minutes, at Detroit and Long Beach. Those races also have just one pit stop, so I feel like we can draw from those experiences. You’re going to have to be on top of your game to win these races, there is no room for error in such short events.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve been to VIR and Lime Rock. Those are tracks that I always enjoyed. They are true, old school race tracks in America. The layouts are very enjoyable for a driver and present a big challenge for the engineers. VIR has always been one of my favorite tracks, so I can’t wait to get back there.”
“The championship-winning Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe has established itself as a clear winner in the Pirelli World Challenge series,” said Rich Brekus, Global Director of Product Strategy for Cadillac. “Competing with and beating other top brands demonstrates and confirms the Cadillac V-Performance abilities on race tracks across North America.”
2017 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule:
March 10-12, Streets of St. Petersburg
April 7-9, Long Beach Grand Prix
April 28-30, Virginia International Raceway, SprintX
May 19-21, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, SprintX
May 26-27, Lime Rock Park, SprintX
June 23-25, Road America, SprintX
July 28-30, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
August 11-13, Utah Motorsports Park, SprintX
September 1-3, Circuit of the Americas, SprintX
September 15-17, Sonoma Raceway
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing