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O’CONNELL: Looking Ahead to a New Year

Cadillac’s Johnny O’Connell on PWC’s changes coming in 2016…

Photo: Cadillac

Photo: Cadillac

Happy New Year to all the Sportscar365.com readers. I have a great deal to be thankful for from 2015, and a lot to look forward to in 2016.

Winning my fourth consecutive Pirelli World Challenge Championship in 2015 was a special addition to my racing resume.

We developed the all-new Cadillac ATS-V.R, got a podium at the Circuit of the America’s (COTA) in its very first race, and then burned one to the ground at Barber Motorsports Park.

Getting in the back-up car I was fortunate enough to take double race wins at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and again, now back in my primary car, at Miller Motorsports Park. I guess I like parks.

Fighting for the title with my old teammate and friend Olivier Beretta at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was special as well. To win the driver title for the fourth time in a row the way we did is a testament to Cadillac Racing and everyone behind the team at Cadillac and GM.

For 2016, I am welcoming new teammate Michael Cooper to Cadillac Racing. Michael is a fast young talent that I am sure will push me at every track this season. Michael is the reigning World Challenge GTS driver champion, and I am glad he is moving up to GT this year in the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R.

A lot of great news is coming from our new series CEO, Greg Gill. There are some fast new cars and drivers that will be on the grid for the season opener at the COTA in early March.

Jon Fogarty and the GAINSCO McLaren, a new Bentley team, as well as another Porsche with Andrew Davis are coming to GT. They will keep myself and everyone at Cadillac Racing on our toes for 2016.

Porsche factory driver Patrick Long will step into the EFFORT Racing Porsche. As Patrick has been quoted as saying, “I am the last guy to win the GT class in the last five years that wasn’t named Johnny,” so I am looking forward to seeing Patrick on the grid at COTA and battling all season.

I am sure there are still some announcements to be made as the season opener is still two months away. I know that we are working harder than ever to stay at the front and I think the 2016 season will be as competitive as ever. Happy New Year!

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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