Cadillac Racing drivers Michael Cooper and Johnny O’Connell head to Sonoma Raceway in California this weekend for the final round in the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Championship. Cooper, currently third in the race for the drivers’ title based on points, still has a mathematical chance at coming out on top. He and sometimes-co-driver Jordan Taylor became PWC SprintX GT Pro/Pro champions at COTA earlier in the month, but with 288 championship points, he still trails behind Patrick Long (320 points) and Alvaro Parente (292 points) in the Overall GT Drivers’ Championship.
“We need to win and if [Patrick] Long mimics our results from the last event, a sixth place and a DNF, we would win the championship,” Cooper said, referring to his disappointing showing at COTA. “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.”
Johnny O’Connell, currently fifth in the Overall GT Drivers’ Championship, knows the track of Sonoma Raceway very well; he drove there frequently as a Bondurant instructor, and last year, won both PWC races there in his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R. He’s not gunning for the Overall GT Drivers’ Championship, but he does hope to complete the season in a stronger position.
“Dating all the way back to the late 80’s in Formula Atlantic I’ve raced and won at Sonoma raceway,” O’Connell says. “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.”
Two Pirelli World Championship races will take place at Sonoma this weekend: one on Saturday at 2:15 pm (PT), and another on Sunday at 10:15 am.