MONTEREY, California (October 9th, 2016) - Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell, driving his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe., was assessed a 2.1-second penalty due to “avoidable contact” in Turn 5 with Porsche driver Patrick Long as the two drivers battled for the race lead on the 27th lap in the 50-minute sprint contest in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday.
The penalty issued to O’Connell moved the four-time PWC GT champion to fifth in the final GT race results, giving Alvaro Parente the race victory.
“The penalty was assessed to Johnny O’Connell for avoidable contact entering turn five on the final lap of today’s GT/GTA/GT Cup Round 20,” said Greg Gill, CEO and president of WC Vision, producers of the Pirelli World Challenge. “The stewards looked at various angles of the incident and determined that Johnny had two wheels off the track and came back onto the track, making contact with Patrick. This contact knocked Patrick off the track in turn five. And the penalty was determined this evening after hours of review.”
“The 2.1-second penalty at the Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Laguna Seca was a little tough to take,” O’Connell said. “When you’re a competitor and you cross the line first and then get that win taken away and you are dropped back to fifth, it hurts. Not only for myself, but for the team that works so hard to put a top car on the track. We led the whole race from the pole and weathered three restarts from full course cautions. On the last lap restart I went into Turn 4 and had a wiggle and got two wheels in the dirt. That allowed Patrick (Long, No. 58 Porsche) to take a run on me going into Turn 5. I was on the inside and, I felt, he turned down on me and we touched. I feel bad for that, it was the last lap of the last race and I just wanted to win. He really didn’t need to try that move. I was there to win. This was the second win that was taken away, I also crossed the finish first at Long Beach and was denied that trophy as well.
“I still believe the season was a success for the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe team. We won three races, had a pole position to go along with nine podium finishes (including wins). The competition in the World Challenge series gets tougher every year. There are a lot of great GT3 cars being prepared by good teams and driven by top drivers. I am already looking forward to the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida in March.”
Michael Cooper completed his freshman season in the PWC series by finishing third in the GT driver standings on the strength of two race wins, a pole and six podium finishes.
“The last lap at Laguna Seca was wild,” Cooper said. “Johnny got two wheels off, Patrick made his move and then Alvaro Parente (No. 9 McLaren) and I slipped through past Patrick, which put me third on the podium. A good way, I thought, to finish my first season in GT. Then a couple of hours later they deemed Johnny’s move as avoidable contact and that took me to second in the race and third in driver points. Disappointed for Johnny, but that doesn’t take away from anything that Cadillac Racing has achieved this season. With the ups and downs of the balance of performance throughout the season and the way that the Cadillac Racing team engineered through those challenges there is no reason to be disappointed. We already have our sights set on St. Pete in five months.”
Cadillac Racing, since the team’s inception in 2004, it has amassed 31 wins, 109 podium finishes (including wins) and 24 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Team Cadillac 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.