Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac Racing

Cadillac ends its title-winning PWC program

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Cadillac Racing has been a stalwart of Pirelli World Challenge through a couple different periods and with several different racecars.

But as the series moves to a customer-based platform in 2018, the factory-backed Cadillac effort has withdrawn its program at the end of this season. The team debuted its GT3-spec Cadillac ATS-V.R at the start of the 2015 season and won a title with Johnny O’Connell that year; the team also captured the SprintX title this year with Michael Cooper and Jordan Taylor.

This will end Cadillac’s tenure in the series and comes as a bit of a blow to the championship. The Cadillac brand entered the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the start of 2017 with its Cadillac DPi-V.R Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program.

Cadillac’s release is below, followed by a statement from PWC:

Cadillac will place its championship-winning Pirelli World Challenge V-Performance Racing GT team into hibernation, following a September sweep of the GT class at the season-finale double header at Sonoma Raceway.

Since the team first assembled in 2004 to take the first-ever Cadillac CTS-V Sedan sprint racing against the toughest GT competition around, it has amassed 33 wins, 121 podium finishes (including the wins), and 25 pole positions. As a team, Cadillac competed in 332 races across eleven years of competition.

Drivers having contributed to the program include Johnny O’Connell, Michael Cooper, Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Andy Pilgrim, Max “the Axe” Angelelli, Ron Fellows, John Heinricy, Olivier Berretta, and Lawson Aschenbach. The team won World Challenge Manufacturer Championships in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cadillac Racing drivers earned the World Challenge Driver’s Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim, and with Johnny O’Connell in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. This year, Michael Cooper and copilot Jordan Taylor earned the first-ever SprintX Driver Championship honors.

“Throughout 11 years of competition with Cadillac Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, we have taken tremendous pride in our successes, including 33 wins, 121 podium finishes and multiple manufacturer and driver’s 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.”

“Cadillac road cars are better than ever thanks to racing with World Challenge,” said Rich Brekus, Global Director of Product Strategy for Cadillac. “Equally importantly, the Cadillac Racing GT Team has earned the enthusiasm of thousands of fans around the world. You will see Cadillac Racing t-shirts in the crowd at LeMans each year, thanks to the GT program. The team has provided excellent representation on and off the track, and perfectly reflects the core of passion in our brand. The drivers and crew have been true ambassadors as we introduced Cadillac V-Performance to the marketplace. In 2018, we will take a pause in Pirelli World Challenge as we focus completely on our effort in prototype sports car racing. 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.”

Finishing in style befitting Cadillac, Michael Cooper punctuated the success of the Cadillac Racing GT program by winning both of the season-ending races at Sonoma Raceway in the Vector Blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe on September 16th and 17th.

In the program’s second and third chapters, rebuilding after the 2008-10 stand down for the Great Recession, the team’s most competitive streak occurred from 2012-15 when Johnny O’Connell earned four consecutive driver 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.

PWC Statement on Cadillac’s departure from the GT3 division:

From Greg Gill, President and CEO of WC Vision, producers of the Pirelli World Challenge:

“We, at WC Vision, wish the Cadillac brand all the best in its future racing endeavors. Cadillac has been a valued partner for many years. The Cadillac participation in the Pirelli World Challenge has left a legendary mark in series history with numerous GT driver, team and manufacturer championships through the years. In addition, Cadillac’s marketing activation and support grew concurrent with the Series over the past five years. With the continued expansion of customer-based racing in the Pirelli World Challenge, we know our competition level has grown each year and believe those ideals will increase the PWC fields. We hope to see Cadillac back in the Pirelli World Challenge in the near future.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.