TOOELE, Utah (Sept. 13, 2014) - Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O'Connell added a third consecutive Pirelli World Challenge Series GT Drivers’ Championship to his racing résumé. Teammate Andy Pilgrim sealed the Manufacturers’ Championship for Cadillac by finishing third in GT in the finale of Pirelli World Challenge Nissan at Miller Motorsports Park.
Both Cadillac drivers were able to get clean lanes down to Turn One for the final race of the season. Exiting Turn One, O'Connell moved to second-place from his sixth place starting position with teammate Pilgrim slotting in two spaces behind in fourth. The Cadillac drivers’ sole focus was to keep the armada of six Audis behind them to take the manufacturers’ title. Mission accomplished. Pilgrim finished the race in third position behind a McLaren and a Porsche while O'Connell came home a safe seventh to celebrate his third GT drivers' championship.
O'Connell maintained a laser focus throughout the 2014 season to win his third World Challenge GT Drivers’ Championship. Posting three wins, one at Long Beach and two in Detroit, he added six second place finishes and two thirds to go along with four pole positions on the year. It was the last five races that were the most challenging. Following the Road America round, the team was saddled with a weight penalty that took O'Connell from average finishes of third to average finishes of fifth the last half of the season. Luck, strategy, teamwork and execution all played key roles in O'Connell's third championship—a rain-shortened event at Mid-Ohio where the team kept him on the track resulting in a second place finish. This was key and the stars were aligned in the first race of the final weekend when championship rival Mike Skeen, No. 2 Audi, had an axle issue at the start and scored zero points, with O'Connell driving to a second- place finish. The three-time champion relied on his race craft, honed over 27 years behind the wheel, to take advantage of every opportunity and keep the championship under the Cadillac Racing tent.
“What a year,” O'Connell said. “It is everyone at Team Cadillac. I’m just the quarterback. We have a whole team that makes this CTS.V.R go. If you don't have the whole package from the car to the crew to these great Pirelli tires, you are just not going to win here. Andy is a great teammate and he was on fire today. He drove a great race. I couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished as a team this year. This one is probably the most special of the three. We had to overcome a lot of obstacles this year, and we did it as a team. We did not make a mistake all season long.”
Pilgrim's drive helped Cadillac Racing secure their fifth manufacturers’ championship (2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014).
"We had to keep Audi behind us," Pilgrim said. "Johnny got a good jump at the start. Skeen (Mike, Audi No. 2) got by me on the first lap fair and square. I kept the pressure on him as we hit some traffic, and I was able to get by Mike. Then I was behind Johnny, and I sensed his car was going off a little sooner than mine. I put that move on him going into Turn Five and was able to get by. My car was better and I had to go. I ran as hard as I could the rest of the race, and I was able to keep it going. Congratulations to Johnny on his third championship and Cadillac on their third title as well."
Jim Campbell, General Motors vice president performance vehicles and motorsports, extended his praise for Cadillac Racing. "Incredible finish," Campbell said. "Great driving by Johnny and preparation by the crew all season long. I’m proud of Johnny and the CTS-V.R team on winning the GT Drivers’ Championship for a third year in a row. Andy's drive today, finishing third, brought the Manufacturers’ Championship back to Detroit for the third year as well. Teamwork, preparation, determination and great driving were keys to the championship."
"Really good racing this weekend," David Caldwell, Team Cadillac technical program manager, said. "Johnny did what he needed to do yesterday and Andy really stepped up for us today to secure the Manufacturers’ Championship for Cadillac. They work great together as teammates, and they executed every lap this weekend without error. I need to thank every member of Team Cadillac for digging deep and putting in extreme efforts all year long to deliver both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championship titles for Cadillac."
Since the team's inception in 2004, Team Cadillac has amassed 26 wins, 91 podium finishes, (including wins) and 22 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Team Cadillac drivers have won the World Challenge Drivers’ Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim and in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with Johnny O'Connell.
The Pirelli World Challenge Series races from Miller Motorsports Park will be televised on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, September 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Additional information on Cadillac can be found at media.cadillac.com. Multimedia and team information can be viewed at cadillac.com, gm.com, media.gm.com, world-challenge.com, andypilgrim.com and johnnyoconnell.com and on Facebook: GM, Andy Pilgrim, Johnny O'Connell, and Cadillac.
The Team Cadillac media guide can be viewed at media.cadillac.com. For additional information, please contact Kyle Chura at firstname.lastname@example.org or (248) 821-0468.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and advanced technology. More information on Cadillac can be found at media.cadillac.com.