MID-OHIO ROUNDS KEY FOR TEAM CADILLAC TITLE HOPES
Manufacturer Race Tight with Three Rounds Left
Mid-Ohio Rounds Key to Team Cadillac Title Hopes; Manufacturer Race Tight with Three Rounds Left
Jordan Taylor Joins Team Cadillac for Rounds 10-11 on Legendary Course
* Cadillac Leads Manufacturers By 6 Over Porsche
* O’Connell, Pilgrim Still Lead Driver Championship
* Team Returns to Site of First Victory Last Season
LEXINGTON, Ohio – A year ago, Team Cadillac came to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course without a victory. It left with its first, and that moment in time has morphed into a full-on championship challenge.
Since then, Cadillac CTS-V Coupes in the hands of Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim have been consistently near the top of the result sheets in Pirelli World Challenge Series competition, winning five times and logging podium finishes.
“The reason for our success this year is all the hard work the engineers have done in the offseason,” said O’Connell. “We finished second in the manufacturer’s championship last year with a car that was brand-new; we developed it through the season and then had the winter to improve on it. The engineers have done a tremendous job with the car.
“My job is pretty easy: just go out there, drive fast and be smart.”
That’s going to be a key element this weekend in the Cadillac Mid-Ohio Grand Prix, especially the smart part.
“It’s a track that usually rewards the Porsche, lots of tight stuff, change of direction,” O’Connell said. “Our Cadillacs tend to like higher-speed stuff.”
Speaking of speed, there’s a new addition to Team Cadillac this weekend, in the form of Jordan Taylor. The 21-year-old driver is the son of legendary road racer Wayne Taylor and currently drives a Chevrolet Camaro in another series and the Corvette in endurance races.
“We’re excited to have him,” said Team Director Steve Cole. “We’ve done some testing with him in the past and he’s really quick and a great kid. I think with the championship as tight as it is, this gives us a chance to put some more cars between us and our main rivals at Porsche. He’s a great addition to our program.”
Taylor, for his part, also joins the Corvette team for endurance races, and has a solid background in the sport through his father and brother Ricky. He won the pole and finished third here in 2012, in another series.
“It’s exciting,” Taylor said. “I’ve been watching them since last year when they returned to the World Challenge Series, and they got their first win here last year. It’s cool to come back to this track, it’s pretty special for the brand and for the whole team. I’m excited and looking forward to the weekend.”
Working with O’Connell and Pilgrim is a good opportunity, he said.
“Those are two guys that are pretty much legends of the sport, so to be driving alongside them, looking at their data and listening to their feedback is pretty much priceless,” he said. “You can’t get that anywhere else. Driving with them, learning from them, it’ll be a good experience.”
So will being on the track with a ton of cars, which is a hallmark of the Pirelli World Challenge Series.
“It’s a super-challenging track, and with 55 cars on the track in World Challenge, it’ll make for a really exciting event,” Taylor said with a grin.
Pilgrim, the lead driver for Team Cadillac since the program began in 2004, welcomed the youngster to the team.
“In 2004-2007, we had three cars at least half the time, so for me, it’s not different,” Pilgrim said. “Everybody works together, we’re a team, and we know what the job is: to get the manufacturer’s championship for Cadillac. That’s what we want.
“You can be a little more aggressive if you know there’s a couple of cars out there instead of just one. He’s a good kid, very quick, and he’ll be right there.”
Having a third Cadillac on the track will definitely help fend off a bevy of Porsche’s that are lurking just behind the CTS-V Coupes in the manufacturer and driver’s points.
A disappointing weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Canada put the brakes on what had been a near-perfect run toward both titles. Flat tires in both races, one for Pilgrim and one for O’Connell, snatched two sure podium finishes from the team and tightened the manufacturer points considerably.
After leading by 11 points over Porsche following Round 8, O’Connell’s flat tire sent him from second to 10th in the roundup, while Pilgrim finished fifth. Team Cadillac left Canada clinging to a six-point lead over Porsche.
Things are much brighter on the drivers’ side, with O’Connell leading Pilgrim by 177 points with three races to go. Pilgrim is 33 points clear of third-place Lawson Aschenbach.
Both races of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Mid-Ohio Grand Prix will be streamed live online. GT, GTS and Touring Car drivers will take to the track for two races, the first, Round 10 of 2012, scheduled for August 4 at 5:15 pm, and the second Round 11 race set to take place on August 5 at 9:55 am.