Johnny O’Connell won Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix for Cadillac Racing, however after failing a post-race inspection, the road-racing veteran was stripped of his victory and bumped down to second in the official running order. Teammate Michael Cooper drove an extremely strong race, but hit a patch of fluid late in the day and put his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R into the wall, causing him to turn up 15th overall.
O’Connell started from second for the 50-minute Southern California sprint race alongside pole-sitter Alvaro Parente in his McLaren 650S. By Turn 1 O’Connell had lost two positions, however a full-course caution would soon bunch the field together again. On the restart, O’Connell managed to jump both the Porsche of Patrick Long and the McLaren of Colin Thompson to reclaim second. A second yellow then came out on Lap 10, with O’Connell again capitalizing on the restart and passing Parente for the lead.
From there on out, it was relatively easy sailing for O’Connell, with the 53-year old only having to work to keep Parente at bay. He beat the McLaren driver over the finish line to take first, however he was stripped of the victory following a post-race tech inspection. SCCA officials found spikes in boost pressure caused by the Cadillac’s traction control system that were out of regulation, so O’Connell’s win was handed to Parente.
“In post-race tech they found we had a few boost spikes that were not to their liking,” O’Connell said. “From what I understand these were when we were in traction control situations, so not a speed advantage at all. But rules are rules. A second place finish does not take away from the accomplishment of Cadillac Racing today. I am proud of the team.”
Cooper, meanwhile, started from the back of the grid due to a mechanical issue in qualifying. He drove an extremely strong race, working his way through the field and finding himself in the top ten by Lap 22. With eight minutes to go he hit a patch of fluid in the track and slid into the wall, forcing him to retire and take a 15th place finish. Not long before the shunt, he had posted the fastest lap of the race.
The Pirelli World Challenge series will travel to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama next weekend for rounds six and seven of the 2016 championship series.