Taylor brothers join team, O’Connell first race ever at VIR
Cadillac V-Performance Racing drivers Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y), Johnny O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.), Jordan Taylor (Orlando, Fla.) and Ricky Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) are ready for the first Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX race weekend to run at Virginia International Raceway, April 28-30.
The PWC SprintX format requires two drivers and a mandatory pit stop and driver change during its 60-minute run time. Cadillac Racing will declare its driver pairings just prior to the first of two races on Saturday. Jordan and Ricky Taylor have tested with the team in the late winter, but the team is going to take the data collected in the free practice time leading up to Saturday to declare which of the Taylor brothers will join Cadillac PWC series regulars Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper.
“There are a lot of very strong drivers and cars for SprintX,” O’Connell said. “I am a little worried that the pro-am combinations in GTA could lead to yellow flags. VIR is along tract with a lot of racing room so I hope I’m wrong. Our Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe is one of the heaviest cars on the track, so I am a little concerned that we may have more tire wear over a 60-minute run than the other cars. It will be interesting to do a driver change in PWC for the first time. We will be well practiced by the time the first race goes off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.”
O’Connell will be racing at VIR for the first time ever.
“I have never raced at VIR before, but have done a fair amount of testing there in our Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe,” he continued. “I have also done a good amount of production car testing over the last few years. I am looking forward to finally competing there this weekend.”
Cooper is looking for a lot of “firsts” this weekend at VIR.
“I see our Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe being very strong on the VIR layout,” Cooper said. “It’s a similar type of track to COTA [Circuit of the Americas] and Road America that we were strong at last year. VIR also requires a lot of high-speed stability and agility which our Cadillac excels at, so I’m anxious to see how we stack-up. Everybody is wondering how the first SprintX race will go. There will be plenty of firsts, although there probably won’t be any fire hydrants flooding the track. All I know is it is a stacked field and I’m sure it will be anything but boring. I don’t have much racing history at VIR. The only time I’ve races there was my first professional race in 2010 in a spec series, I almost nabbed the pole and ended up finishing on the podium.”
Jordan Taylor is looking forward to the competition and running one of his favorite tracks.
“VIR has been a great track for me in the past,” Jordan Taylor said. “That’s where I had my first professional pole back in 2010 and then my first professional win in 2011. I’ve always enjoyed driving there. It’s got an incredible natural terrain layout in the hills which has a great flow and some of the best corners in the country. It’s very rewarding when you put a lap together around there. I’m excited for my first SprintX event. I think it’s going to be a very tough race. There are lots of strong cars, teams, and driver line-ups. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. The Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupes always run strong, and I think the endurance style event should suit us even better. It’s a huge advantage having the endurance history that the team brings to the table. They’ve been competing and winning at the highest level of sports car racing over the years, and that is invaluable experience that will help us. It’s nice to know that you have a strong support group behind you. Ricky and I have been doing driver changes for the past eight years, so it’s almost a natural thing now. When we first started doing them, it was all about understanding the process and not getting too excited. Lots of guys in the SprintX come from an endurance background, so I think it’ll be a tough weekend.”
The competition and new format intrigues Ricky Taylor.
“I had my first start at VIR back in 2008, it was my second ever Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race driving for Crawford with Andy Wallace and Jared Beyer,” said Ricky Taylor. “I’ve always enjoyed racing there, but never won at that track. The SprintX Championship looks very competitive, with some excellent driver line-ups with top level teams. I think it will be important for us to make the most of the practice sessions because this will be unusual for the PWC teams to be utilizing two drivers throughout practice. We will have to get on pace very quickly and make sure we can qualify well for what will be a tough race to gain track position. The team brings a lot to this style of racing. A lot of the team came from the endurance side of the sport where pit stops and long distance racing was normal. A lot of the procedures, strategies, and execution will have to be similar so that experience is hopefully going to work to our advantage. Execution will be critical because making a mistake in such a short race will not leave any time for a comeback. I think Jordan and I can bring some of our knowledge from the driver changes we have been doing in IMSA such as how we like the belts laid out and the order of operations for the unplugging and plugging in of the driver communication systems. But the major thing that is new for all of us is that there is no driver assist and the exiting driver will have to install the finishing driver which will be a major challenge.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will travel to Virginia International Raceway (VIR), April 28-30. The VIR round will include the season’s first SprintX race.
Cadillac Racing, since the team’s inception in 2004, has amassed 31 wins, 110 podium finishes (including wins) and 24 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Team Cadillac drivers have won the World Challenge Driver’s Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 with Johnny O’Connell.
Additional information can be viewed at Cadillac.com, GM.com, media.gm.com, world-challenge.com, johnnyoconnell.com; Twitter @MSCooper1, @JohnnyOConnell, @Jordan10Tyalor, @RickyTaylor_10, @Cadillac; Facebook, GM, Michael Cooper, Johnny O’Connell, Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Cadillac.
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