Both Brands Enjoy Come-from-behind Wins in Final Race of the Season
Overcoming rain, low temperatures, and double-digit point deficits, two of GM’s racing teams captured multiple class titles during the last event of the 2013 Pirelli World Championship series, held recently in Houston.
Leading the way was GM's legendary Johnny O'Connell, who drove his Cadillac CTS-V to his second consecutive GT class driver's title—while helping Cadillac to its second consecutive manufacturer's championship. O'Connell, of course, has made a habit of helping the General earn its share of racing hardware, having been part of three class victories at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Corvette. Not that that made winning in Houston any easier.
Qualifying was washed out by rain, which continued to race day and had a definite impact on the start of the event. In the wet conditions, it first looked like GT class points leader James Sofronas in his Audi R8 and Randy Pobst, driving a Volvo S60, might run away with the race, but as the weather improved, so did the performance of O'Connell and the Cadillac CTS-V. He had joined the lead pack of four racers by lap 17, saw Sofronas drop out of the race with a flat on lap 25, and on lap 26 made a nifty pass on Pobst that secured him the victory, the driver's championship, and even the Cadillac "Move of the Race" Award.
It’s also worth noting that O’Connell’s Cadillac Racing teammate, Andy Pilgrim, was third in the 2013 driver’s standings and was a key factor in the brand’s manufacturer’s crown with eight top-three finishes this year and a victory at the Sonoma race in August.
Said David Caldwell, manager, Cadillac Communications: “The championship season for Cadillac Racing in Pirelli World Challenge is the result of an incredible team, led by our drivers Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim. It’s also a result of the remarkable performance of the Cadillac CTS-V, as World Challenge is about production-based cars from many legendary manufacturers.”
Lawson Aschenbach did the honors in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class, driving the Black Dog Speed Shop’s #10 Chevrolet Camaro to victory and adding the driver’s championship to Chevy’s previously acquired 2013 manufacturer’s title. And while Aschenbach also ended up leading the GTS class this year with six wins, it took some help from the rest of the field to claim the third World Challenge driver's title of his young career.
Aschenbach actually came to the Houston race in second place in the driver's points standings and needed both a victory on his part and a finish of no higher than third from then-leader Jack Baldwin, competing in a Porsche Cayman S. Aschenbach lept into the race lead early on, but Baldwin stayed close during most of the day, only falling back to fourth in the waning moments of the action. In the end, Aschenbach won the driver's title with 1,395 points that were just 12 more than tallied by Baldwin.
But as was the case for Cadillac Racing, Chevrolet’s manufacturer’s crown was built on a team effort. Tony Gaples, also driving a Chevy Camaro for the Black Dog Speed Shop, contributed nine top-10 finishes to the cause and finished seventh in the GTS class driver’s rankings for the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge season.
(Note: Aschenbach is shown here during qualifying for a Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race earlier this year.)