Cadillac Racing is carrying plenty of momentum to St. Petersburg, Florida this weekend, the site of rounds three and four of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship, after a strong 1-2 finish at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas Sunday.
Reigning series champion Johnny O’Connell drove his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R to a first place overall finish in the series GT category at COTA Sunday, while GT rookie Michael Cooper slotted in behind him in second. The day before, Michael Cooper finish third in the first of two races in the double header weekend and O’Connell placed fifth.
However COTA, a road course, is much more tailored to the driving style of the front-engine ATS-V.R than the modified street course at St. Pete. O’Connell is expecting to the mid- and rear-engine cars to have more of an edge in Florida than they did in Texas, so Cadillac Racing will have to bring their A-game.
“We are running two totally different circuits in a matter of four days, so there’s not a lot that is going to be applicable from one to another,” O’Connell said. “Every time we run the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe we gain data and that makes us stronger at every track. Street circuits tend to suit those cars that are mid or rear engined. So for sure I would think the Porsche and McLaren will do well, also the Audi was very good last year at St. Petersburg.”
Both O’Connell and Cooper believe qualifying near the front of the grid will be critical to the team’s success this weekend as the narrow street course makes it easy to become entangled in a wreck and also makes it hard to overtake.
“Qualifying up toward the front is hugely important on street courses as the opportunity to pass is limited,” said Cooper, a two-time race winner at St. Petersburg. “The restarts can be crazy. You want to be as far up on the grid as possible to stay out of the melee.”
Catch up with Cadillac Racing throughout the weekend by tuning into World-ChallengeTV.com, where the GT races, as well as the GTA, GTS and CT Cup races, will be streamed live. The event will also be televised on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, March 20th at 12:00 p.m.