Cadillac V-Performance drivers Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y) and Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) are heading to Sonoma Raceway for the final round of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship this weekend, September 15-17.
Following the last event at the Circuit of the Americas, Cooper along with Jordan Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) were crowned Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX GT Pro/Pro champions. Cooper is focused on another prize, driving his No. 8 Vector Blue Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe to the overall PWC GT championship heading into this weekend at the track located at the gateway to wine country.
Cooper is third in the PWC GT driver standings with 113, 44 behind leader Patrick Long (Porsche, 154 points) and 39 behind second place Alvaro Parente (McLaren, 152 points).
“We need to win and if Long mimics our results from the last event, a sixth place and a DNF, we would win the championship,” Cooper said. “Anybody can have a bad points weekend, it only takes a small mistake. Patrick can’t go into the races with a coast and collect mindset, unless he wants to risk losing the manufacturers championship. He will have to go out there and race us and everybody else. I’m always looking at the big picture and there is more on the line than just the overall championship. I can only hope that it comes down to a must win scenario on Sunday and I get the radio call to go for it.
“We aren’t changing anything in our preparation, I’ve been training and preparing like I always do. The team is working as hard as ever to give Johnny and I the best cars on the grid. We are always ready, this weekend is no different.”
O’Connell is looking for some competitive redemption as he heads to the 2.5-mile, 12-turn course, of which he once worked as a Bondurant instructor. O’Connell, four-time PWC champion, is ready to continue a streak of incredible performances at the track he knows very well where last year he won both races in his No. 3 Velocity Red Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. The driver from Georgia is fourth in points with 108 and is competing to move up.
“It’s hard to believe that Cadillac Racing has gone an entire year without winning a race based on speed,” O’Connell said. “Since I began with them in 2011, we’ve executed well each season, just as we have this season, needless to say, it’s been frustrating and with Sonoma being the last race of the season, it will be total commitment and focus.
“Dating all the way back to the late 80’s in Formula Atlantic I’ve raced and won at Sonoma raceway. I’ve always had good runs there. I want to say Ron Fellows and I won five straight back in the ALMS days in the Corvette and we had a good year of course last year in our Cadillac ATS-V.R winning both races. It’s my hope to continue that tradition this weekend. Having spent so many years there instructing for Bondurant, I doubt there are many drivers that have logged more laps on that circuit than I.
“No doubt there is special motivation. In my 17 years racing for GM only once have I gone an entire season without a win that was a year in ALMS where Corvette Racing only won once. With nothing to lose, we will be committed to ending the year on a positive note.”