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O’CONNELL: Detroit Debrief

Cadillac Racing’s Johnny O’Connell files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

The Pirelli World Challenge week in Detroit is always a long and exciting one. My teammate Andy Pilgrim and I have to be in town mid-week to attend press events and meet with team members that we don’t see at the race track.

It is always nice to put a face to a name or from an email or on the phone with the people that help get our Cadillac ATS-V.Rs to the race track.

On Friday we had a perfect Detroit Chamber of Commerce day, sunny and 80-degrees on Belle Isle. We were fast in practice right at the top of the time sheet.

On Saturday in qualifying we were ready to go for the pole. The GTA guys went first and completed their 15-minutes of running.

When the GT cars hit the track the Porsche driven by Renger van der Zande hit the wall and that was it. Most of the field did not get a timed lap so the World Challenge officials set the field by points. I would start third.

Taking the rolling start Saturday morning I slotted into the third position and watched as Olivier Beretta in his Ferrari and Kevin Estre in his McLaren went at it, waiting for my moment.

Very early in the race while running third behind the Ferrari and McLaren, Nick Catsburg slammed his Lamborghini into the back of me in the middle of a corner and just about wrecked me twice within 50 yards.

Data showed the hit was 2.5 g’s. What he was thinking? I have no idea. The hit sent us back to sixth and I was able to crawl back to fourth. Extremely disappointed for sure.

Due to heavy rain and winds that blanketed southeastern Michigan the second of our two races of the Cadillac V-Series Challenge weekend was cancelled.

The warm-up witnessed heavy water on the track and for safety reasons the race was cancelled. It is too bad, because we missed an opportunity to have our series on live television in the shadow of GM Headquarters.

It is always wise to be safe. It was pretty treacherous in the warm-up especially when you were around another car.

There would probably have been a lot of accidents if we raced Sunday. Really no need to destroy a lot of expensive equipment in that type of weather. It was the right call.

On to everyone’s favorite track, Road America on June 26-28.

Johnny O'Connell (@JohnnyOConnell1) is a three-time American Le Mans Series champion and four-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Team Cadillac in the Pirelli World Challenge.

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