Cadillac V-Performance Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y) are heading to the west coast looking for some redemption at this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix.
Last year O’Connell took the checker as the winner of the Pirelli World Challenge GT race on the famous Shoreline Drive. After celebrating with the Cadillac Racing team, the World Challenge officials, during post-race inspection, deemed the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe to have had a single traction control induced turbo boost spike during the race. The World Challenge officials thus relegated O’Connell to second, handing the win to Alavaro Parente.
Both O’Connell and Cooper are looking for some redemption this weekend. O’Connell wants the win that was taken away last year and Cooper wants to have a solid run as his race was cut short in 2016. He had a car issue in qualifying that forced him to start from the rear of field. Using the restarts to his full advantage he drove the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe to fourth with his sights set on a podium finish. With eight minutes to go he rolled through fluid on the track and brushed the wall, which forced him to pit and park it. He was classified 15th and posted the fastest lap of the race.
“Well in my mind, we did win last year,” O’Connell said. “Being over boosted for less than the blink of an eye, while in traction control, I think it was a bit silly taking that away from us. Naturally I’m highly motivated. I think qualifying is going to be critical at every event this year. That stated, if you look at last year, I led going into Turn 1 only to get punted. We fought back from fourth, and got the lead back. So it is important, but opportunities always present themselves. Certainly the fans at St. Petersburg were rewarded with two amazing races. The series has everybody pretty darn close. So I expect, once again, to see the same strong teams and drivers at the front. I definitely love the Long Beach circuit and fans, it is a real carnival like atmosphere.”
Cooper has unfinished business on the streets of Long Beach.
“Last year I put extra effort into preparing for Long Beach because it was going to be my first time driving the circuit,” Cooper said. “I feel a lot more prepared coming back for the second time. I have been analyzing data, my notes and video so that we can hit the ground running. Qualifying is crucial at any race, it makes life a lot easier when you can start up front. However I almost made it to the podium from last place in 2016. So no matter where we start, I believe we will be in contention for the win. I think there will be a lot of action like we’ve become accustomed to seeing in World Challenge. Everybody wants to win this race. I too feel we have some unfinished business in Long Beach, so I’m anxious to get on track.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing