Cadillac Racing recently completed pre-season tests with its ATS-V.R racecar at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Johnny O’Connell, who will return to the Pirelli World Challenge this year as the defending champion (again), recently shared some info about their pre-season test in his latest column for Sportscar365, saying the team has been working hard in the off-season to ensure success in 2016.
Hard work is required of them, because this year the PWC GT field will be even more competitive than last. Manufacturers such as McLaren and Bentley made things hard on the Cadillac team in 2015, and they will return this year looking to dethrone the ultra-competitive General Motors factory squad after their narrow championship win last year.
“Last season was certainly a breakout year,” O’Connell wrote. “The level of competition at the top of the GT Class was fierce. It required both teams and drivers to be picture-perfect every event.”
“I trust this year will be the same. When you look at the number of McLarens that will be out there, the all-new Porsche in the hands of Patrick Long, the Acuras, the Bentleys and Audis, well you know it’s going to be amazing racing.”
One major change with the PWC this year will be the elimination of standing starts. While cars stalling out on the grid usually made for a hectic and dangerous start, O’Connell said they really added to the excitement of watching the series and are an aspect of racing he is going to miss.
“Personally, I was very sad to see that aspect of our racing go away,” he said. “As a driver it’s maybe one of the coolest and most exciting moments in our sport. It will mean, most likely, a little less chaos, but I’ll miss them.”
Finally, O’Connell commented on Cadillac Racing newcomer Michael Cooper, who replaces Andy Pilgrim in the No. 8 ATS-V.R for 2016. A GTS champion, the college-aged Cooper is considered to be more than up to the task of keeping Cadillac competitive throughout every round of racing in 2016.
“My new teammate Michael Cooper, who I’m sure is going to impress a lot of people, will be driving the No. 8 black Cadillac ATS-V.R,” O’Connell said. “Michael is great young talent and is getting on great with the team.”
Click here to read O’Connell’s entire column on Sportscar365.