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Laguna Seca: GT race report

Pilgrim Wins SPEED GT Season Finale, Pobst Takes Championship MONTEREY, Calif., (October 21, 2007) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., took his second win of the season and secured the second Manufacturers' Championship for Cadillac at the...

Pilgrim Wins SPEED GT Season Finale, Pobst Takes Championship

MONTEREY, Calif., (October 21, 2007) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., took his second win of the season and secured the second Manufacturers' Championship for Cadillac at the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Finale, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Second place Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., took home the Drivers' Championship, while teammate Michael Galati, of Omsted, Ohio, finished third.

Needing to finish at least second to win the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship regardless of where his competitors finished, polesitter Pobst took command of the race from the start lights, defending the lead from the Cadillacs of Pilgrim and Ron Fellows, of Mississauga, Ontario.

Before a full lap could be completed, the race went full-course yellow for five cars spinning into the gravel at Turn Four, three of which need to be removed with track safety vehicles. Following a lengthy cleanup, the race restarted on lap seven. It would be the only full-course caution of the 28-lap, 74.241-mile race.

Pobst continued to hold the lead in his No. 22 K-PAX Racing LLC/Jim Haughey Porsche 911 GT-3 over the No. 8 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V of Pilgrim. As Pobst clicked off fast laps, he opened up a lead of more than two seconds by lap 15. Pilgrim responded with several fast laps of his own, including the fastest lap of the race, a 1:30.801 (88.730 mph) and whittled down Pobst's lead. He was within striking distance by lap 20 and on lap 22, Pilgrim slid inside of Pobst entering Turn Two and took the lead. Pilgrim motored into the distance, taking his second SCCA SPEED GT win of the season and the seventh of his career, by 1.883 seconds.

"This has not historically been a fair track for us," Pilgrim said of his Cadillac. "We're quite good on fast tracks and quite good on street courses, but the long wheelbase does not lend the car to being very good on medium-speed courses. But, with Randy carrying so much REWARDS weight, we thought, on a historically good Porsche track, that we had a shot.

"We have to start our tire pressures very low, because of how heavy the cars are. We had to wait for the tires to come up to temps and it takes six or seven laps to do that. At the time when my tires were just getting optimal, which is the middle eight or so laps in the race, I noticed that Randy began to have a little bit of a hard time with his fronts. I radioed that to the crew and they told me to 'keep pushing and shut up.'

"I got close enough to make a fair move and Randy gave me racing room, which is all we can ever ask for. I managed to pull away a little bit and I think at that point Randy might have settled a little bit for second--maybe he didn't want or need to fight it out for the win today.

"When you're racing these guys, it's the real deal. You can't make any mistakes and if they see it and perceive that you're having a problem they'll be right on you. I didn't want to show that my rears were going in the last five laps because I figured he'd be on me. That's how competitive we are and that's how good this series is.

"I congratulate Randy on his Championship and the K-PAX team. We knew they were going to be the class of the field. It's always tremendous to run with these guys and it is just tremendous to get a win today."

Pilgrim's win earned Cadillac the 2007 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER. Cadillac finished 11 points ahead of Porsche (71 to 60). It is the second Manufacturers' Championship for Cadillac since entering the series in 2004. Chevrolet finished third with 50 points, followed by Dodge, with 24.

Riding in second with his nearest Championship competition coming into the race, Lawson Aschenbach, running seventh, Pobst was content with a runner-up finish to take his second-career SPEED World Challenge Championship.

"Andy Pilgrim really knows how to race," Pobst said. "He races hard and he knows what he's doing. He's not going to take you out with some kind of a crazy maneuver.

"I'm so thrilled to have another opportunity to race in World Challenge and with a great team like K-PAX and 3R Racing and great sponsors like Team Janica and a great car like a Porsche, to have a great teammate like Mike Galati and race against quality people like Andy Pilgrim and the Cadillac team.

"We had to chase the track. Normally, we fight oversteer in a Porsche, but today we fought understeer with the little Toyos on the front. Andy was coming and I didn't have anything for him. It didn't make sense to really fight it. I went deep into Turn Two and he just came right up the inside. I tried to stay on the outside. It was fun.

"Today proves that you just can't win them all. But, it is great to be able to win another Championship, especially at my age!"

Pilgrim finished second in the Drivers' Championship, 16 points behind Pobst (303 to 287). Last year's Champion Aschenbach finished the year third with 280 points, followed by Galati with 269 and Eric Curran with 190.

Dropping back on the start, Galati in the No. 23 K-PAX Racing LLC/Jim Haughey Porsche 911 GT-3 climbed back quickly to his grid position of third.

"I had a bad start and [James] Sofronas went by me and so did Ron Fellows," Galati said. "I was able to get by Sofronas in Turn One and then me and Ron--we duked it out. After the restart, he was struggling with his car a little bit. I don't think it was handling as good. Once I got by him, I started chasing these guys, but I tell you what, they were running so fast. I was trying to catch up and not burn up the tires. They opened up the gap and I could do nothing.

"I'm happy for Randy that he won the Championship today and for K-PAX that we both finished on the podium today. Congratulations to Andy, who drove a great race, and to the Caddies."

Michael McCann, of North Canton, Ohio, finished a season-best fourth in his No. 82 McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper. McCann also earned the B&M Oil Coolers Coolest Move of the Race with his pass on Aschenbach's No. 1 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V for fifth on lap 24.

Newly crowned SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champion Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., completed the top five in the No. 13 Kicker/Woodhouse Auto Family Dodge Viper.

Championship hopeful Aschenbach ended the race in sixth, followed by teammate Ron Fellows, Scotty B. White (Dodge Viper), Paul Bonaccorsi (Pontiac GTO) and Ritch Marziale (Dodge Viper).

Bonacorssi, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for advancing 15 positions during the race in the No. 21 Autosport Development Pontiac GTO.

Cindi Lux, of Aloha, Ore., in the No. 2 Dodge/MOMO/Corsa/Mintex Dodge Viper won the Piloti Rookie of The Race by finishing 11th.

Sonny Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Conn., was the Toyo Tires Cup Award winner, finishing 13th in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette.

Today's race will be broadcast on SPEED, Sunday October 28th at 4:00 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: scca

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Lawson Aschenbach , Michael Galati , Paul Bonaccorsi , Jeff Altenburg , Michael McCann , Sonny Whelen , Scotty B. White , Cindi Lux , Ritch Marziale