The one exception to the GT3 formula is
the Acura TLX GTs of Real Time Racing, which
were grandfathered in (Acura is expected to
reveal a GT3 version of its new NSX soon).
Team principal Peter Cunningham has been
World Challenge’s most enduring
competitor, running from the beginning in
almost every class the series has offered
over the years. He’s earned seven
championships between GT, GTS and
Touring Car – nine if you go back to the
SCCA Escort Endurance Championship
that gave birth to World Challenge in
1990. He’s had enough love for the series
that he became an investor in WC Vision,
the company that purchased the series’
marketing and promotion rights from
SCCA Pro Racing in 2008.
Real Time returns intact with its driver
lineup of Cunningham and Ryan Eversley,
who brought the TLX GT its first victory in
2015 at St. Petersburg in the rain. For
2016, the car will be changed from
all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive to bring
it into line with the GT3 cars. That’s a small
change for a team in a season that will see
major changes for most.
Even Cadillac has a big change for 2016.
While four-time defending champion
Johnny O’Connell returns, he will have a
new teammate in 2015 GTS champion
Michael Cooper. Cooper won the GTS
championship in a Blackdog Speed Shop
Camaro, his second World Challenge title
after the 2012 Touring Car championship.
Now he’s moving to one of the top rides in
the series’ premier class.
“They’re the best team in the Pirelli
World Challenge paddock,” he says.
“They’re highly skilled guys and know
what they’re doing with a focus.”
Cooper’s teammate is not only a
four-time World Challenge champ, he
has four 24 Hours of Le Mans class wins
and an American Le Mans Series GTS
championship, illustrating the caliber of
drivers and teams World Challenge attracts.
THAT’S VELOCITY RED TO BE EXACT.
“Cadillac has chosen Velocity Red to celebrate
Johnny O’Connell’s 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GT
Driver Championship,” said Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac
Chief Marketing Officer. “Always sharing our
excitement with customers, dealers, and fans, Cadillac
will now offer Velocity Red exterior paint on 2016
Cadillac ATS Coupe, ATS-V Coupe, and ATS-V Sedan
models. We congratulate Johnny on his exceptional
performance and wish all racers a safe and exciting
O’CONNELL, NICKNAMED JOHNN Y RED,
IS FOND OF THE HUE.
“Wow, what a tribute to the team’s four championship
seasons,” said O’Connell. “Red is my color, it will go
good with my hair. Usually team cars are the same color
and you only know the difference by a mirror color and
the number. My number three will have a distinctive
on-track look. What makes it extra special is that the
color will also be available on production cars as well.
I can’t wait to see the first one pull into one of our
Cadillac Corral events this summer.”
Real Time Racing returns to
GT with the only non-GT3
spec car in the Acura TLX GT.
Team owner/driver Peter
Cunningham (inset) is
anticipating the debut of the
Acura NSX GT3 variant soon.
“The format of the series has always been an attraction. We don’t have to race here, but year by
year by year, we looked at the landscape and decided where to go. It has worked out we’ve been
loyal to World Challenge because of the format, the venues, the competition and the television
package. It’s been a good deal for everybody. It’s pretty cutthroat on the track, but off the track
there’s camaraderie, there’s a respect … it’s a good group of folks.”
Johnny O’Connell’s Celebration Red.
2016 PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE SEASON PREVIEW