After opening the Pirelli World Challenge season on the street courses at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O'Connell are ready to put their CTS-V Coupes on a permananent road course for the first time this year at Austin's Circuit of The Americas, where the series will share the USGP venue with the V8 Supercar series.
The World Challenge cars will run the COTA short or "National" course, which measures 2.3 miles and 17 turns. The CTS-V crew will run a double race weekend with 50-minute races on Saturday and Sunday.
"I have driven COTA during one of our Cadillac V-Series Performance events last December," said Pilgrim (ABOVE). "I also did some rounds in the racecar to give some demonstration laps which was really useful. I think the shorter track should be good for us.
"We expect the Audi and Mercedes will be very quick at COTA," he added. "These cars were developed on Europe's billiard table-smooth tracks just like COTA, but I think we will not be far off and I'm looking forward to the race weekend. There is plenty of runoff on this track compared to the street courses, but I really think a fast lap is going to be a smooth lap – I don't think you can attack this place too much and be quick. The complex layout of the multi-apex turns and multi-turn complexes demand that you are inch-perfect."
Pilgrim already has developed an affinity for the new track.
"No doubt my favorite turn is the double-apex fast right-hander, Turns 16, 17 and 18 on the track map," he said. "It's listed as three apexes, but in reality, its one double-apex turn. I like it as it's really quick."
O'Connell also has a few parade laps around COTA.
"I went to COTA on Bondurant Racing School business back in November," O'Connell said. "I am really looking forward to racing there this weekend. It is great that the World Challenge series is running at COTA."
The Georgia resident has mixed feelings on running the National Course with the biggest field of the year, however
"We are not running the long straights, which would have been nice to draft down," he reckoned. "I am not sure where we are at on the long straights, compared with the competition, as this is our first natural-terrain race of the year. Add 50 cars on the short course and that can be chaos. Without the walls like the street courses, sometimes that makes a lot of guys to do some things that they would not do on a street course."
• The Pirelli World Challenge races from the Circuit of The Americas will be televised on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring can be streamed from world-challenge.com.