Cadillac says it plans to keep the lines of communication open with the Pirelli World Challenge, with a future return to the series possible.
Manufacturer plans to focus on prototype racing
Cadillac Racing is leaving the Pirelli World Challenge after five manufacturers’ championships.
The championship-winning Pirelli World Challenge V-Performance Racing GT team closed out its PWC run earlier this month as Cadillac driver Michael Cooper won both of the season-ending races at Sonoma Raceway in the Vector Blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe on Sept. 16-17.
The move away from GT racing is designed to give Cadillac an opportunity to focus on another form of racing.
“In 2018, we will take a pause in Pirelli World Challenge as we focus completely on our effort in prototype sports car racing,” said Rick Berkus, global director of product strategy for Cadillac. “However, we maintain a regular and open communication with Greg Gill, the World Challenge CEO, and hope to one day return to the series in some form.”
The team first assembled in 2004 to take the first-ever Cadillac CTS-V Sedan sprint racing and since then racked up 33 wins, 121 podium finishes and 25 pole positions. As a team, Cadillac competed in 332 races in 11 years of GT racing.
Drivers having contributed to the program include Cooper, Johnny O’Connell, Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Andy Pilgrim, Max Angelelli, Ron Fellows, John Heinricy, Olivier Berretta and Lawson Aschenbach. The team won PWC manufacturers’ championships in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cadillac Racing drivers earned the World Challenge drivers’ championship in 2005 with Pilgrim, and with O’Connell in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“My best memory with Cadillac Racing has to be the double win at Sonoma to close out the 2017 season,” Cooper said. “In the final race of the season, starting from the outside of the front row, I was able to make a move into the lead. For the rest of the race I would have to hold off a charging Patrick Long to bring home the victory, which I was able to do. I was extremely proud to give all of the people in the team one final win. It was an incredible run to end the era of Cadillac Racing’s ATS-V.R in Pirelli World Challenge.”
“Throughout 11 years of competition with Cadillac Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Series (the team did not compete in 2008-10), we have taken tremendous pride in our successes, including 33 wins, 121 podium finishes and multiple manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships,” said Mark Kent, director of motorsports competition for Cadillac Racing. “We also have taken tremendous pride in the level of technology transfer that has occurred between the Cadillacs competing on track and their showroom counterparts. This technology transfer has helped make the Cadillac ATS-V and CTS-V production models very track-capable and athletic.”
The team’s most competitive streak occurred from 2012-15, when O’Connell earned four consecutive drivers’ championships. Three of those were secured in the mighty Cadillac CTS-V.R Coupe and one in today’s GT3-homologated Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. In the same period, O’Connell posted 13 wins in the CTS-V.R and five in the ATS-V.R.
“Having won four championships in seven years, I naturally have lots of amazing memories that Cadillac Racing achieved as a team,” O’Connell said. “No championship was easy, and all but one came down to the last race. I remember the race in Houston, when Audi brought in Rene Rast to try to help win the championship. Needing a win for our Cadillac CTS-V.R, on a drying track we took the lead with two laps to go and wound up champions. That was special.”