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O’CONNELL: Toronto Debrief

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

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

It was a tough weekend in Toronto for Cadillac Racing.

Coming into the season we knew that the FIA GT3 specification cars with their light weight and high downforce were going to be good at the natural terrain road courses like Road America and Mid-Ohio.

We thought that our tried and true Cadillac CTS.V.Rs would be especially strong at the street tracks, we were partially right.

In qualifying I was able to put in a time good enough for just a fifth place starting position.

My teammate Andy Pilgrim was a little further back in ninth. Porsche brought in factory driver Nick Tandy and the Dodge guys had Kuno Wittmer in a first time GT3 Viper.

These guys had the luxury of coming into the race mid-season with no real restrictions on those cars. We have gone through several iterations of BpP (Balance of Performance) and as a result they started one-two on the grid and had the rest of the field by a few tenths.

On the standing start I was able to split the cars in front of me and enter Turn One in second position.

Then on the very next straight Wittmer just motored by me in his Viper. We had two caution flags which shortened the race and I was able to keep the rest of the field behind me for last step on the podium.

As a result of a lot of rain Saturday afternoon and into the night, the IndyCar race was cancelled. The schedule for Sunday changed and we raced at 9:30 a.m. instead of 12:15 p.m. and our race would be reduced to just 37-minutes, from our usual 50.

In addition, due to a drying track, they had a rolling start instead of our traditional standing start. This really hurt me. Coupled with the fact that I was starting eighth due to my fast lap from Saturday that call really hurt.

At the start everyone was anxious, probably because there was not much racing time.

I had a pretty good run in Turn One, but the FIA GT3 cars are light and more athletic than our Cadillac. There was a lot of banging around and I brushed the wall once pretty hard.

Not my best day, I ended up finishing eighth. I have never worked harder for an eighth place finish. We are choked back on our horsepower and it is tough to get a run on a car and complete a pass. It takes everything I have just to keep position.

We are on to Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course Aug. 1-3. It is a track that every driver loves. I would love to have a few more ponies under the hood to make things interesting.

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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