O’Connell third, Cooper eighth

LAKEVILLE, Ct. -Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell finished third in the first race of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship double-header race weekend being run at Lime Rock Park this afternoon.

In qualifying today, O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) drove to a fifth place starting position. Even though his Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe is still under the balance of performance (BOP) restriction from the previous round at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, he still managed a top five qualifying position running a time of 52.108 around the tight 1.5-mile, seven turn track. Teammate Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) drove to an eighth place starting position with a time of 52.313.

At the start of the 50-minute race, the 21 car GT field filed into Turn One nose to tail. As the field of GT cars came around for the first lap O’Connell was scored in fifth and Cooper in ninth. As the race progressed Patrick Long in the No. 58 Porsche tangled with the No. 87 Bentley of Andrew Palmer forcing the Bentley off the track and the WC Vision Officials giving Long a drive-thru penalty, gifting O’Connell a podium finish.

Last lap drama had the No. 43 Acura of Ryan Eversley going off the track in front of Cooper, who had to lift off of the gas pedal to avoid Eversley returning to the tack, which allowed Long to pass for seventh position.

“We left it all on the track today,” O’Connell said. “We have been dealt a difficult hand with the BOP. Today Alvaro (Parente, No. 9 McLaren) just ran away with the race. I am very proud of the Cadillac Racing team. We have been improving the Velocity Red Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe every race. We have found the sweet spot here at Lime Rock with the handling. We were a fifth place car a little bit back today. When you can leave the race track knowing you did everything right and with a trophy you have a lot to be proud of and we did that today.”

Cooper was in preservation mode.

“It was a tough hot race,” Cooper said. “The start was very dicey. Some guys were making it four and five wide. I was in the middle focusing on keeping the car clean for tomorrow. I had to back out of the gas. I then got stuck behind higher horsepower cars with less pace. Once I could get by I could focus on my line and get clean track. Long came out of the pits just beside me. At the end the Acura ran deep and came back on to the track off of the grass and almost hit me, I had to brake to avoid him and Long went bye unfortunately.”

The Pirelli World Challenge series race two from Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut will take the green tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Cadillac Racing, since its inception in 2004, has amassed 29 wins, 105 podium finishes (including wins) and 23 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, kyle@kcapr.com or (248) 821-0468.