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GT World Challenge America

O’CONNELL: Mid-Ohio Debrief

Cadillac Racing’s Johnny O’Connell checks into Sportscar365…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Luck is something that those of us in racing either believe in or do not. I am Irish so it comes with the red hair.

Going into the Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Mid-Ohio Cadillac Racing thought, based upon our lap times at Toronto, that my teammate Andy Pilgrim and I had bottom of the top ten cars.

In qualifying our prognosis came true. I qualified seventh and Andy was ninth. The latest balance of performance that we have received has us down on power and carrying an extra 130 lbs.

It is tough to be competitive with the light weight, high downforce FIA GT3 specification cars when you are down on straight line speed.

In the first race I made a great start and drove up to P2 behind Mike Skeen’s Audi. I could stay with him a lap or two, but the cars are too mismatched to even consider racing for more than a couple of laps.

Straight off there was a caution and on the restart, Ryan Dalziel motored on by me in the lighter Porsche. He and Skeen then disappeared until rain the came, which was for me the luckiest thing in the world.

As it began to really pour Skeen chose to pit for rain tires. We stayed out on slicks. When the race was red flagged we were gifted a second place finish. Luck of the Irish I guess.

For race two I started fourth, based upon my fastest lap from the first race. At the start I saw a gap and squeezed my Cadillac CTS.V.R by two competitors in front to duel for the overall lead going into the second turn.

Like Saturday’s race a caution flew after the first lap bunching the field. On the restart I was second. The next stretch of 20 laps I just couldn’t hold off the lighter FIA GT3 cars.

Luckily, there’s that word again, we had another yellow later in the race. This allowed me to cool my tires and hold back the competition for the last seven minutes of the race and I came home in fifth.

My fastest lap during the race was 1.2 seconds behind that of the Porsche and Audi. We were the eighth fastest car. That being my fastest lap, not my average, which was I’m sure was even greater. All this with one of the best handling cars I’ve had this season.

I was very proud of the effort put in by Cadillac Racing. We working harder than ever to stay up in the points.

No lie I had an amazing car. So I’m proud of them. But I’m also worried. We are 1.2 seconds back which might not be enough. Red headed step child at the moment, you bet.

I was leading the GT points coming into Mid-Ohio and I thought I would leave the lead somewhere in the Key Hole. But, I am sitting at home on Monday still leading the points with two weekends and four races to go.

The next stop is one my favorite tracks, Sonoma Raceway, Aug. 22-24.

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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