Cadillacs Qualify Fifth and Seventh in Chilly Mid-Ohio for SPEED GT Race O'Connell and Pilgrim Getting a Grip on Resurfaced Track LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 20, 2006 - After days of rain, the sun finally shined on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for...
Cadillacs Qualify Fifth and Seventh in Chilly Mid-Ohio for SPEED GT Race
O'Connell and Pilgrim Getting a Grip on Resurfaced Track
LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 20, 2006 - After days of rain, the sun finally shined on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for this morning's qualifying session for the fourth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT series. Cadillac drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim qualified their CTS-Vs fifth and seventh respectively. With a 50-degree chill in the air and low temperatures on the newly resurfaced track, getting a grip was the order of the day.
O'Connell recorded his quickest time of 1:28.008 (92.364 mph) on his third qualifying lap. He'll start on the inside of the third row for tonight's 50-minute sprint race. Lou Gigliotti will start on the pole after qualifying his Corvette at 1:26.973 (93.463 mph).
"A top-five qualifying run is good, but the main deal is to make sure we have a good race car and a good clean race," said O'Connell, who finished as runner-up after starting fifth in the St. Petersburg round. "As it stands now, I think my CTS-V will be good in the race. We've improved the car every session, and everyone at Team Cadillac is doing a great job."
A repaved track and reconfigured curbs have given the venerable 2.25-mile road course a new twist.
"The track is definitely smoother, but the new curbs are pretty aggressive," O'Connell noted. "They did a super job, but the surface just needs a little time to get more rubber down. St. Pete was very bumpy in comparison, but this CTS-V loves any race track, whether it's a street circuit or a natural road course."
Pilgrim notched his quick time at 1:28.550 (92.219 mph) on his second lap. He then went out in the final minutes of the session to try for a quicker time, but the checkered flag fell before Pilgrim could complete his flying lap.
"I didn't get a perfect lap on my first attempt, so I went out at the end to try to shave off a couple of tenths," Pilgrim reported. "As it turned out, we're about where we thought we'd be on the grid, and I can't complain.
"I think the race will be tight and aggressive, and there is definitely the possibility of a lot of contact," predicted the reigning SPEED GT champion. "Mid-Ohio a place where people sometimes get frustrated and then make a late move, so we'll see what happens in the race."
"I think we got the maximum out of the Cadillac CTS-Vs in qualifying, so I'm happy with that," commented Team Cadillac program manager Dave Spitzer. "Coming to terms with the new surface has been a challenge because there is very little rubber on the track and the rain has washed it clean. A racing line hasn't developed yet and it's very slippery out there. We've been focusing on improving mechanical grip, knowing that the overall grip level is low. The drivers and engineers have been doing a terrific job."