AUSTIN, TEXAS -Cadillac Racing drivers Michael Cooper and Johnny O'Connell finished round one of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT Series Championship season opener third and fifth respectively this afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
Cooper (Syosset, NY) started on the front row, but was passed by a competitor going into the first turn with teammate O'Connell (Flowery Branch, GA) slotting into the sixth position. The race went immediately yellow dispatching the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe Pace Car in front of the 34 car field. On lap four the race was restarted. Cooper was relegated to fourth when he had contact going into the first turn and more rubbing in the next two turns. For the next 19 laps the duo of Cooper and O'Connell circulated the 3.4-mile, 20 turn COTA circuit in fourth and fifth. On the last lap heading into the last turn Cooper was able to get on the inside of the Nissan GTR of JD Davison and take the final step on the podium to finish third with O'Connell coming to the checkered flag in fifth.
"The start was pretty smooth, Pat Long (No. 31 Porsche and eventual winner) braked pretty early," said Cooper. "I might have been a little too conservative heading into Turn 1 and Davison came flying around the side of us. On the restart after the yellow I got tagged and then he hit me again. It affected the car a little, the handling was a little funny the rest of the race. On the last lap Davison was a little too aggressive going into the final turn and I was able get inside him and put the power down in my Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe and beat him to the checkered flag. A good start to the year for Cadillac Racing."
O'Connell likes the start to the season.
"I didn't have the best start at the green," O'Connell said. "We are usually pretty good at those starts. I got freight trained around the outside by a few very ambitious guys. You always like to win, but when you have a race where you get passed and fall back and then have to battle back to the front, its fun. We worked hard, the Cadillac Racing guys did a great job. Michael put a Cadillac on the podium, so a good points day for both cars. We have a warm-up tomorrow to make a few adjustments and then we race again."
The Pirelli World Challenge Championship will open the season at the Circuit of the America's with a double race weekend March 3-6, 2016. The race will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network, Sunday March 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Cadillac Racing, since its inception in 2004, has amassed 26 wins, 91 podium finishes (including wins) and 22 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cadillac Racing drivers have won the World Challenge Driver's Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 with Johnny O'Connell.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. Today, Cadillac is growing globally, driven by an expanding product portfolio featuring dramatic design and technology. More information on Cadillac appears at www.cadillac.com. Cadillac's media website with information, images and video can be found at media.cadillac.com.