Oh, Canada! Team Cadillac Looks North for More Victories
Coming off Detroit Sweep, Team Looks to Add to Driver, Manufacturer Point Leads
* O’Connell, Pilgrim 1-2 in Driver Points, Cadillac Leads Manufacturers
* It’s a Weighty Issue for O’Connell
* Mechanical Issue Leads to Spare Car for Pilgrim
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Team Cadillac driver Johnny O’Connell has always said he liked Canadian Tire Motorsport Park because it was a test of driver and machine…and mostly driver at that.
Add in the danger factor, and you’ve got one of the all-time great motorsports venues in the world.
O’Connell and teammate Andy Pilgrim will pit themselves and their potent Cadillac CTS-V Coupes against the track and the rest of the Pirelli World Challenge Series field in this weekend’s Sports Car Doubleheader, seeking to further distance themselves from same.
“I love the place,” O’Connell said. “I’m always excited to come here. This place favors a driver who not only has smooth technique, but also great confidence in his car and his abilities. Falling off [the track] here usually means a big wreck, so there’s a danger factor in there as well. It’s the biggest danger factor of any track we go to.”
O’Connell has had success on the 2.459-mile course, winning seven times in a Corvette and finishing second here last year in the return of Team Cadillac to the series.
Pilgrim, likewise a veteran of the Corvette program and Cadillac’s team leader since the program began in 2004, found that danger factor in the first practice session Friday morning. Coming into the blind, off-camber Turn 2 at speed, a mechanical issue in the right front slung his No, 8 CTS-V Coupe off the track and into the tire-and-concrete barriers.
Pilgrim emerged battered but otherwise unhurt, and the crash damage was such that the team was forced to the spare car for the rest of the weekend.
He too feels that Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is a driver’s track.
“Without a doubt,” he agreed. “It’s all about momentum here. Don’t use the brakes, stay off them as much as you can.”
Both drivers were on the podium here last year, and Pilgrim is veritable top-five machine, collecting six such finishes in seven races here for Team Cadillac since the program began in 2004.
Getting top-fives, always a good thing in a series as closely matched as the Pirelli World Challenge, is the goal every weekend for Team Cadillac. With Pilgrim’s switch to the spare car and the fact that O’Connell’s CTS-V will be carrying the maximum REWARDS weight of 224 pounds makes that problematical.
“I’m depressed coming here maxed out on weight,” O’Connell revealed after sweeping both ends of the Cadillac V-Series Challenge at Detroit three weeks ago. “The biggest problem is the fall-off you get in the car. You can get eight to 10 decent laps, but the additional weight makes you easy pickings for cars that don’t have it.”
What he and Pilgrim do have, entering Rounds 8 and 9, is a stranglehold on the points. O’Connell, on the strength of three victories in the first seven races, leads the driver standings by 128 over Pilgrim, who has one victory at Long Beach.
On the manufacturer’s front, Cadillac leads the way with 56 points to 47 for Porsche with five races remaining.
Two victories and three podium finishes at Detroit gave Team Cadillac eight podiums in the 2012 season.
Pilgrim said this weekend’s events are an excellent chance to keep what they have and go on toward the championship.
“Johnny is in great shape for the championship, and the manufacturer’s championship is the key,” Pilgrim said. “We had a great weekend in Detroit, so we need to maintain our advantages in both areas. We need to get as many points as possible, do the best we can.”
The Sports Car Doubleheader will kick off Saturday at 1:15 p.m. EDT for Round 8 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday for Round 9. Both races will be streamed live.