NEW YORK (October, 13, 2016) - Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O'Connell and Michael Cooper had a successful 2016 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT season posting five wins and 13 podium finishes.
O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) posted three race wins (Circuit of the Americas, two at Sonoma Raceway) a pole position (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) to go along with six podium finishes. Teammate Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) completed his freshman season in the PWC series by finishing third in the GT driver standings on the strength of two race wins (Barber Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio), a pole (Barber Motorsports Park) and seven podium finishes. The results had the New Yorker in contention for the championship at year's end.
"The season was incredible, like any year it had its ups and downs," Cooper said. "When we look at the points, it wasn't quite as successful of a year as we had hoped, Finishing third. However, getting to drive the Cadillac ATS.V.R Coupe is such a thrill for me, that I still have a big grin across my face. I learned an incredible amount in my first year with Cadillac Racing and I can't wait to apply that knowledge on track in the future. The biggest surprise in my first year of GT racing has to be how much risk people are willing to take on the first lap to gain a couple of positions. I enjoyed working with the Cadillac Racing team and Johnny all year, both seasoned pros. Looking back I am most proud of being on the pace straight away at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) and getting two GT wins in my rookie year."
O'Connell had to preserver through a tough weekend at Road America where an electrical issue on his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe resulted in finishes of 19th and 20th. In addition, the four time PWC driver champion, had two wins negated at Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Through the difficult moments of the season, together with the Cadillac Racing team, he was able to put in solid races that had him still in contention for the championship going into the final race at Laguna Seca.
"We have a lot to be proud of at Cadillac Racing in 2016," O'Connell said. "But for one difficult weekend, I'm confident we would have pulled off a fifth championship. In a way not winning again is maybe a good thing. It motivates me to go into the off season and train harder. It's odd in that I find myself now enjoying my racing every bit as much as when I first started, and I feel I'm driving as well as at any point in my career. I'm also really enjoying having Michael be part of the team. As the season progressed we worked better and better together, driving the other to push harder. Finally representing Cadillac at this point in time is awesome. The excitement of everyone there, from the president Johan de Nysschen and everyone that helps make the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe go. There is some great energy at the brand. To play a principle role in getting out the message that speaks to the performance characteristics that are Cadillac is a pretty cool thing.
O'Connell drew from the experienced Cadillac Racing team to come back from the adversity of Long Beach, Road America and Laguna Seca. "Needless to say all three of those weekends were really tough," he continued. "I'm not sure I'll ever really accept it, but I am proud of the way Cadillac Racing rallied after each event. No one quit. I appreciate that after what happened with the Long Beach situation, Alvaro Parente refused to accept the trophy when I offered it to him, acknowledging that, in his mind, we won that race. That took a lot of the sting away. Our team never got down, we just looked ahead to take on the next challenge."
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.
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