ohnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim are,
in a sense, General Motors “lifers.” For more
than a decade apiece, each has contributed
to the success of the Corvette and, more
recently, Cadillac Racing programs. The
latter is in its second iteration of Pirelli
World Challenge competition and, in
just two seasons, has established the
CTS-V Coupe racecar as the benchmark
in the closely-fought GT category.
“We’ve gone from people saying,
‘I can’t believe Cadillac is racing’ when
we first competed in 2004 through ’07,
to people now realizing Cadillac isn’t just
luxury, but has a performance and luxury
identity because of racing,” Pilgrim says.
It’s an astute observation from the
Englishman, who finished second to
O’Connell in the 2012 World Challenge
GT Drivers’ Championship, where Cadillac
also captured the Manufacturers’
Championship. O’Connell won three races,
including a doubleheader sweep on the
Detroit Belle Isle street circuit, just down
the road from Cadillac’s headquarters,
while Pilgrim added another win and the
team’s lone pole of the season.
The success achieved in 2012 was
down to a combination of factors.
Surprisingly, outright speed wasn’t
anywhere near the top of the list.
“The CTS-V racecar isn’t even close to
being the fastest car in the field,” says
Dave Caldwell, Cadillac’s World Challenge
program manager. “We delivered the
championship on a combination of
reliability, preparedness, setup and
adapting to weather.”
Finishing had a lot to do with it.
Combined, the two Cadillacs failed to
complete only one lap all season, when
O’Connell’s car suffered a tire issue on
the final lap at Mosport, Ont.
For any manufacturer entering a
championship – or re-entering, in the case
of Cadillac’s World Challenge program – the
Rated at 556hp and 551lb-ft of torque, the CTS-V’s supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 is the most powerful road car engine in Cadillac’s history. In World Challenge spec, the supercharger comes off and an air restrictor goes on, taking the power down to 460hp – still enough to earn a GT class Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship double.
“We delivered the championship
through reliability, preparedness,
setup and adapting to weather”
initial learning curve is always steep, not
only from a technical standpoint, but in
understanding the mindset and mastering
the nuances of what it takes to be
competitive in a particular series. In World
Challenge, where the emphasis is on
keeping the cars as production-based as
possible, the learning curve is as much
about what you can’t do as what you can.
The “v2.0” CTS-V designed and built
by Cadillac Racing, its technical partner
Pratt & Miller, and engine-builder Katech