O’Connell Sixth, Cooper Seventh in Race One
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper finished sixth and seventh respectively in the first of a double race weekend at the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship being run at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) started alongside each other on the fifth row based upon their qualifying times from noon today. At the start down the long back straight at the 2.25-mile, 13-turn undulating Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course located an hour north of Columbus, Cooper had to take evasive action. With cars spinning in front of him, he took his N0. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe to the grass. As the race progressed through a series of three caution periods O’Connell made use of the restarts by improving his position to sixth. On the last restart Cooper, again, had to take to the grass exiting the Keyhole to avoid yet another melee. At the checker it was O’Connell sixth and Cooper seventh. Based upon their fast laps from today’s race, Cooper will start tomorrow’s noon time race from the front row in second with O’Connell starting his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe from fifth.
“If that wasn’t exciting enough for the fans I don’t know what is,” Cooper said. “The Indy Cars were out before us and put down a lot of rubber. That was the slickest dry track I have ever raced on. We were running four or five seconds slower than qualifying in the first few laps. At the start there were cars everywhere across the track in the first turn. I had to take to the grass to make sure that I kept the car clean. On the next restart, same thing coming out of the Keyhole, cars spinning across the track. So I took to the lawn again. I gave up a position, but I was able to make it up, and the track was coming in. I was able to put in a fast lap at the end to start up front for tomorrow.”
O’Connell liked the way is Cadillac was handling.
“I had a really good Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe,” O’Connell said. “Most weekends you could win with that good of a car. We started ninth and finished sixth. We moved up so that is good. We will take a look at today’s performance and the data and see if we can make the car that much better for tomorrow. We are starting a little closer to the front, so we will see if we can also improve on today’s finishing position.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series races from Mid-Ohio Sports Car course will be televised Sunday, August 4 at 4 p.m. Fans can follow the race weekend action via livestream at via http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo.