O’Connell leads GT points, Cooper second

NEW YORK – Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper head north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP) for rounds eight and nine of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship Victoria Day Speedfest to run May 19-22. O’Connell leads the GT points over Cooper by 16 (638 to 622).

O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) is returning to CTMP where in 2015 he swept both GT races in a backup Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe race car. The Georgian has a lot of history at the 2.4-mile, 10-turn undulating road course located northwest of Toronto. O’Connell has one win so far this season at the Circuit of the Americas in March. Teammate Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) got his first GT win at the last race at Barber Motorsport Park. The New Yorker counts CTMP as one of his favorite tracks.

“The wins at CTMP last year might have been my most important,” said O’Connell. “Remember it was just two weeks following our burned up car at Barber and the team had to build-up the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe show car. The amount of pressure on the team was enormous. I like CTMP, I think it suits my driving style well, as I’ve had great success there for both Corvette and Cadillac, as well as in prototypes. Based upon the finishes at Barber, I think anybody can win this weekend. At Barber we had four top cars and drivers finish within two seconds. I would expect both Nissan and Bentley to be joining the fray, and let’s not forget that Acura is a factory team. You can totally expect them to be running at the front as well.”

O’Connell, honorary Canadian, “Back when I drove for Corvette, Ron (Fellows CTMP owner) and all the Canadian fans gave me a quiz. If I passed the quiz they would make me an honorary Canadian. Naturally, I passed, received a plaque from them, and I consider it one of my best memories.”

Cooper is looking forward to some close racing at CTMP this weekend.

“CTMP is one of North America’s best race tracks, so I’m really glad it’s on the schedule,” Cooper said. “I had a strong run there last year in the GTS car, so I’m looking forward to going back. The layout is one of my favorites we visit, specifically the first sector, Turns 1 thru 3 with the long fast corners. The field has been so tight this year, it’s difficult to single out just one make or driver that will be strong in Canada.”

The Pirelli World Challenge series race one from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will run Saturday, May 21starting 1:15 p.m. ET. Race two will get the green flag on Sunday at 3 p.m. Live streaming of the races can be viewed at http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo/. The event will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network Sunday, May 29 at 12 p.m. ET.