Congratulations Johnny O' Connell
This entry was posted on October 2, 2015.
Following an intense and action-packed season finale, Cadillac Racing’s Johnny’ O’Connell finished 12th in the final race of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but surprisingly the effort was enough to crown him his fourth ever championship in the GT racing series.
O'Connell took the standing start from his fifth place qualifying position. Coming across the line to complete the first lap he was in second position, with Olivier Beretta. He and the Monaco native were locked in a heated battle early in the race, knowing either of them could end up champion, however a clumsy mistake by Beretta ultimately cost him the championship. As the race progressed Beretta began to pick off competitors coming from seventh to behind the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R of O'Connell on lap 16, 27-minutes into the race. Over the next eight laps Beretta was charging after O'Connell. On lap 24 Beretta, who’s been criticized for aggressive driving more than once this season, was following O’Connell through Laguna Seca’s corkscrew section when he tried to pass the ATS-V.R on the inside and ended up bumping himself and O’Connell off the track.
Beretta was able to get his Ferrari restarted quicker as he rejoined the race and was able to move into third. O'Connell restarted his ATS-V.R and rejoined the race in 14th. A few laps later Beretta was called in by the SCCA officials to perform a drive-thru penalty when his car broke down at Turn 11, forcing him to finish 35th overall.. However, he still rejoined in a strong points paying position ahead of O'Connell. On lap 32 as Beretta was anxiously trying to make-up positions he had contact with the Acura of P.D. Cunningham in the final turn forcing the Italian to pull his Ferrari off track, handing O'Connell his fourth championship.
The turn of events meant O’Connell ultimately finished in front of Beretta, netting him and Cadillac their fourth consecutive PWC championship.
"What a crazy race," O'Connell said. "I was able to get a great start. I didn't think I was going to be able to get Dalziel (Ryan, No. 31 Porsche). When we went into Turn 2 I was behind the silver Ferrari and the red one got into me a little. I was surprised how fast Olivier was coming through the field. I knew he would get to me. But getting there and getting by is two different things. I was minding my tires as best as I could while digging as hard as I could. I wasn't sure what he was thinking behind the wheel there in the Corkscrew. He took us both out. He wasn't really close to me. When we crested the hill he was four or five cars back. It was a Hail Mary move. I didn't get brushed I got drilled. There was so much time left, he just had to bide his time. The Cadillac Racing guys build a strong car. When I got back going the car was good and still quick. I was thinking he was going to get a penalty and he did.
"I am proud of everyone at Cadillac Racing. This whole team is made up of Joe Montana's, we are a fourth quarter team.”
"We had some adversity this year, the crash at Long Beach while running upfront. I had a car that could have won that race. When I got taken out, I got a huge fine and hit in the points. Then at Barber we were running fast and burned a car down. The spirit of the team came to the front at that point. What people don't see is the hundreds of thousands of hours that the Cadillac Racing crew put into those race cars. I am just the guy who gets to put it on display for 100-minutes on the race weekend."
aFe Control is proud to introduce the Johnny O'Connell Signature Series. The legendary 4 time Le Mans winner and 4 time GT Pirelli World Challenge has proven time and time again he has what it takes to come out on top. We developed suspension packages by working directly with O'Connell throughout the tuning stage to ensure they are up to his standards. Check out some of the products we have to offer for the C5 and C6 Corvettes.
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