Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim poised for toughest season ever
DETROIT - Team Cadillac is returning to the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship looking to defend their driver and manufacturer championships from 2013 and 2012. Drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim will face the most formidable competition that Team Cadillac has witnessed in recent history.
When the season kicks-off March 29 in St. Petersburg, Fla., the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge grid will mirror the floor of the North American International Auto Show. Manufacturers like McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche, Acura, BMW, Audi, and Ferrari look to dethrone Team Cadillac. The new entries and fresh drivers should bring the exciting on track action to a new level.
For O'Connell the challenge to defend his title will drive him this season.
"It has been a busy off season," O'Connell said. "I've spent a lot of time in Phoenix at the Bondurant School and took a trip to China for business development as well doing some driver coaching, which also helps to keep my skills honed behind the wheel.
"I think it is great that we are getting a lot of new brands in the series. That shows that the Pirelli World Challenge Series is a destination. There are strong cars, strong drivers and strong teams. The cars that are coming in are leading edge sports cars. Exactly who Cadillac wants to compete against. We are going in with a reliable and comfortable race car. Whether the car will have the athleticism to compete at that same level we are going to find out.
"Barber is a new track for me. I have never driven that race track, but we are testing there on the way to St. Pete in a few days, so I am looking forward to a fresh look behind the wheel of my Cadillac CTS-V.R."
Pilgrim has also had a busy off season.
"I have been working hard to keep physically fit and working with my safe driving foundation," Pilgrim said. "I have been traveling around talking to middle and high school students about the dangers of distracted driving."
"I think all of the new entries and manufacturers is all positive for the series. With two prime sports car racing series, I think the World Challenge Series is really a great place for teams to race. The new cars will be interesting for us as drivers and especially for the fans."
"Cadillac has done an amazing job over the years of competing, this being the fourth year for the car. We will have our work cut out for us to keep up with those FIA GT3 spec cars. We know that right out of the box they will increase the speed of the GT Class.
"Like Johnny, I have never raced at Barber Motorsports Park. I did an article for AutoWeek magazine and did about 20 laps around there in a street car. I have no experience racing there, so I am excited to run the Cadillac CTS-V.R there in a few weeks at our test. It is a tight track, and it will be tough to pass."
The Pirelli World Challenge Championship season opener will take the standing start at the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 28-30. The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. (re-air Saturday, April 12 at 12:30 a.m.).