Cadillac Racing’s Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper were looking forward to Pirelli World Challenge Rounds 12 and 13 at Road America this past weekend, but the pairing was only able to walk away with a single podium finish in yet another tough outing for the team.
O’Connell and Cooper qualified fifth and sixth for Round 12, respectively. O’Connell got off to a good start, moving up to fourth following the green flag, however Cooper was blocked into Turn 1 and fell to ninth. On lap 4, O’Connell’s Cadillac ATS-V.R started suffering an engine misfire, forcing the four-time PWC champ to limp around the circuit for the remainder of the 50-minute race in order to salvage as many points as possible. He would turn up 23rd, while Cooper moved up two positions to finish seventh.
For Round 13, O’Connell started sixth, while Cooper started ninth. A caution came out on Lap 1 following a wreck, during which O’Connell’s misfire issues returned. This left Cooper to fight for position, and fight he did. The Cadillac Racing newcomer restarted sixth and charged through the field, passing Porsche’s Pat Long, Nissan’s Bryan Heitkotter and Acura’s P.D. Cunningham to finish third. O’Connell was classified 19th.
“Pat (Long) and I had a good race down into Turn 5,” Cooper said post-race. “I could tell I had a little more pace and I was able to set him up going into Turn 1. I chased down Cunningham and was able to get him into Canada Corner. The Bentley was very strong with their big downforce. Going through the Carrousel it would upset the front of my car. Finishing on the podium almost feels like a win today.”