Recently announced Callaway Competition USA driver Michael Cooper says he believes the program is ready to hit the ground running in it’s return to U.S. shores and Pirelli World Challenge.
After three years spent as a General Motors factory driver, the last two with Cadillac Racing’s stalwart ATS-V.R program in PWC’s GT category, Cooper shifts into a new role a Callaway-employed driver alongside PWC debutant Daniel Keilwitz.
Cooper said that with years of racing and development already behind the Callaway-built Corvette C7 GT3-R, including the teams’ championship in ADAC GT Masters this year, he expects the team’s transition to U.S. racing to be a smooth one.
“It’s obviously very exciting,” Cooper told Sportscar365. “It’s even more exciting that the car has already been developed.
“It has a championship pedigree, and then it’s bringing all the pieces together here in the United States to make for a succesful program.
“I think that Callaway is doing an incredible job of that. They still have some work ahead of them, but I think they’re headed in the right direction and I like the way things are looking.
“I think there’s a lot of work before then to get the infrastructure set up here in the United States and then we’ll start working on that.
“But it’s a GT3 car that has already been developed, so I don’t feel like there will be too much development work to be done to get it to a competitive point for tracks here in America.”
The 2017 PWC SprintX champion said the foundation for his partnership with Callaway began with the possibility of doing a one-off in Europe last season.
While that opportunity didn’t materialize, it helped establish a relationship that resulted in Cooper’s deal with Callaway for next year, which was only augmented by the mutual ties to GM.
“To make the introductions, [my GM ties] did not hurt at all,” he said. “I’m glad to be continuing to drive a GM-based vehicle. That keeps that link very strong.
“Once the Cadillac program did end in September we obviously had contact, had meetings, but they hadn’t decided what they were going to do or how this program was going to operate yet.
“When they did decide that they were going to do a factory effort, the groundwork had already been laid between myself and them so it made the direction from there pretty easy and it made things happen really quick.”
Cooper said his schedule since the demise of Cadillac’s PWC effort has been hectic, but with his Callaway deal signed he can turn his attention to preparing for the 2018 season in PWC and possibly in other series as well.
“My schedule has been crazy since the season ended I feel like,” he said. “I haven’t been home much.
“I’ve been working on a lot of different things to try to assure that I had a ride, so now I think I can put my head down and focus on preparing myself for the challenge that lays ahead next year.
“Callaway has allowed me the freedom to other things, and I haven’t had that in the past with Cadillac.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to put some other stuff on my calendar: possibly Daytona, possibly an NAEC effort, and maybe stuff outside of the United States as well.”