ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper will start round three of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix presented by Cadillac from the second and third row for tomorrow’s first race of a double header in the streets of St. Pete.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga) and teammate Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) ended yesterday’s free practice session one and two through the 1.8-mile, 14 turn modified street course that encompasses the city streets of St. Petersburg and a runway at Albert Whitted Airport. In qualifying the duo showed early speed in near perfect 75-degree temperatures. When the checkered flag ended the 20-minute session O’Connell posted a fast time of 1:13.095 good for third and Cooper put in a lap of 1:13.204 that will have him start his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe from fifth.
“The competition this year is unbelievable,” said O’Connell. “When you see grid that tight, with 14 cars within a second that is just incredible. I am pleased with third. The biggest issue was running up on traffic. Usually you can get three or four clean laps before encountering slower cars. At the end I was able to adjust my driving style a little bit and throw down a nice lap. Starting upfront is important at theses street races, anything can happen and usually does.”
Cooper compared qualifying to rush hour.
“It was like driving in New York City out there this morning,” Cooper said. “It was comfortable in the ATS-.VR Coupe. It was a little difficult to get a good rhythm going with the traffic. You just have to put in a lap, recover and go after the next one. We are starting fifth, not too bad, but it would have been nice to be a little further up. We have a great direction going on the set-up on the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. We will be a little on the cautious side as these can be crazy.”
Rounds three and four of the Pirelli World Challenge Series will take to the streets of St. Petersburg this weekend, March 11-13. Live timing and scoring can be found at worldchallenge.growsites.net. Live streaming can viewed at World-Challenge.com/streamvideo. The race from St. Petersburg will be televised on the CBS Sports Network on March 20 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Cadillac Racing, since its inception in 2004, has amassed 27 wins, 93 podium finishes (including wins) and 22 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cadillac Racing 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.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. Today, Cadillac is growing globally, driven by an expanding product portfolio featuring dramatic design and technology. More information on Cadillac appears at cadillac.com. Cadillac’s media website with information, images and video can be found at media.cadillac.com.
Additional information can be viewed at Cadillac.com, GM.com, media.gm.com, world-challenge.com, johnnyoconnell.com; Twitter @MSCooper1, @JohnnyOConnell1, @Cadillac; Facebook, GM, Michael Cooper, Johnny O’Connell, Cadillac.
The Cadillac Racing media guide can be viewed at media.cadillac.com. For additional information please contact Kyle Chura, firstname.lastname@example.org or (248) 821-0468.