Cadillac V-Performance drivers Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y), Jordan Taylor (Apopka, Fla.), Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Ricky Taylor (Lake Mary, Fla.) are heading to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas for the final three races of the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX Championship, September 1-3.
The Cadillac Racing team heads south by southwest leading the PWC SprintX Championship. The series will run three SprintX, two-driver 60-minute races, this weekend as one is a make-up from the rain cancelled event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP) in May.
On the strength of five podium finishes, including a win at CTMP, Cooper and Jordan Taylor have their No. 8 Vector Blue Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe leading the championship points with 141, but the duo is focused on the big picture – the overall PWC GT championship.
“At this point in the championship we have no choice but to be aggressive, to try to beat the championship rivals in the No. 9 McLaren and the No. 58 Porsche in every remaining race,” Cooper said. “With that in mind I don’t think having three races will impact the way we approach the weekend. Even though we are leading the SprintX standings and I’d love to win that for Cadillac, we can’t go into cost and collect mode to make sure we tick that box. I am focused on the big picture. Our goal is to leave COTA in contention for the overall PWC GT title. If we are able to accomplish that, there is a 99.9% chance we will have won the Sprint-X title.
“Qualifying is of the utmost importance in SprintX just like it is in the PWC Sprint format. The minimum pit stop time (30 seconds in SprintX) makes it difficult to lose or gain multiple positions during those stops. However, the timing of the stops as well as in/out laps provide a little more excitement to the races.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many races in one weekend,” Jordan Taylor said. “There are a lot of points on the table and a lot of things that can go right or wrong, but we’ll approach it the same way as any other weekend. COTA is a great track and I’m sure it will suit the SprintX format well. We have a comfortable lead coming into the weekend, but there are still a lot of points to be won or lost. We have to just keep doing what we’ve been doing all year – focusing on our own race, running our own pace, and staying out of trouble, that includes qualifying well.
“Qualifying is probably the most important part of the weekend. It’s very tough to make passes in these cars, so the farther up you start, the easier your life is going to be. The starts can often get pretty hectic because people know that is their best time to make up positions.”
O’Connell and Ricky Taylor in the No. 3 Velocity Red Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe are eighth with 94 and by no means out of the hunt. A strong weekend could catapult them to the front. All four Cadillac Racing drivers have posted wins at the 3.4-mile, 20-turn COTA circuit in their careers and count the track as one of their favorites.
“I was very happy with how things went at Utah in the last SprintX round,” O’Connell said. “Clearly the Ferrari and Acura were in a good place versus everyone else, but I felt Ricky and I executed well. At COTA, I think we have to attack. Do all we can to win. The SprintX format has played out really well for Michael and Jordan, and I have no worries that the team will ask us to do anything other than go for the win.
“Last year at this point we had won several poles and several races. This year the team’s only win was due to a great strategy call at CTMP. And no poles. My energy is best spent getting all I can out of our Cadillac and that’s what I plan to do. Early in my career I was told that at the beginning of a race I’m given 100-percent of a car, just bring back one percent and win, which is the game plan.”
“I think our main focus will be to start the weekend strong,” Ricky Taylor said. “These weekends are built on momentum from qualifying through all of the races. We will try to put together a strong weekend and work together as always to get the car as fast as possible. Also in the back of our minds we will be supporting our teammates and doing what we can to back up Michael and Jordan.
“COTA is a big compromise track, but the lap time always comes through the high-speed sector one, but also on top speed down the back straight. We will have to focus on having a Cadillac that is easy on tires to ensure we have a good car underneath us at the end of the races.”