Cadillac Racing and the ATS-V.R kicked off the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season with a podium finish during a double-header weekend at Circuit of the Americas. Johnny O’Connell managed to finish third in the first race of the weekend, but he and teammate Andy Pilgrim weren’t as lucky in the second race.
O’Connell started from the fifth row in the standing-start season opener. A good launch put him in fourth position before the first turn, and by lap seven, he had worked his way up to third. The race then went caution-free for the remainder, allowing O’Connell to pilot the car to a podium finish with ease.
Pilgrim wasn’t as lucky as O’Connell. He experienced problems with the traction control as he was heading into Turn 12, sending him into a spin. For Pilgrim, the issue was somewhat expected and is seen simply as a growing pain that comes along with running an all-new car.
“I got touched a little into Turn One, but was able to make up a couple of positions,” Pilgrim told Motorsport. “Going through Turn 12 I think I had an electrical problem and the tires spun and I was sideways in the turn. We are still learning about this new ATS-V.R. From that point I was in recovery mode. I was able to run the whole race in a lot of traffic.”
The second race of the weekend was less successful. O’Connell started from the first row based on his fast lap time from the first race, however rain prompted race officials to mandate a rolling start. After one lap, O’Connell had dropped down to fourth. Pilgrim was spun for a second time during the weekend and crossed the finish line in 19th, while O’Connell ultimately ended up seventh.
“Lot of rain,” said O’Connell. “We had a science project going on today at COTA. This was the first time we ran the new ATS-V.R in a full rain set-up. We learned a ton about the race car, the engine and the electronics. The cars we are racing against are well seasoned as are the drivers. You’re not happy with a seventh place finish, but I am proud of the way I drove this new car and we gathered some valuable data so when we run in the rain again we will be that much better.”
All-in-all, Cadillac Racing says a podium and a top ten finish in the first event of the season with an all-new car is “a pretty good weekend.” They’ll be searching for more success as the series heads to Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the weekend of March 27.