Pilgrim and Sofronas Split SPEED GT Practices at Thunderbolt Raceway MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 27, 2008) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., and James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., each topped a damp practice session at Thunderbolt...
Pilgrim and Sofronas Split SPEED GT Practices at Thunderbolt Raceway
MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 27, 2008) -- Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., and James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., each topped a damp practice session at Thunderbolt Raceway for Round Nine of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship.
Currently second in the Drivers' Championship, Pilgrim was pleasantly surprised with the way his No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V handled during the two 25-minute practice sessions that experienced showers on and off.
"It was very slippery," Pilgrim said. "The Remington Cadillac team has done a great job working on a rain setup. We'd never practiced this car in the rain. When it was the [factory] Cadillac team we didn't go out in the rain period, because most of the races were in the dry. Now we've actually done some rain setup on the car and it seems to be quite good."
Pilgrim set the fastest lap time in the morning session and of the day with a 1:36.039 (84.340 mph) around the brand new 14-turn, 2.25-mile road course.
"These conditions might favor one car or another. We don't have ABS and we have a long wheel base, so we're really having to work it to get up there. I'm a little surprised we're first.
"I like the track, apart from the mud," commented Pilgrim. "Obviously it's a new track, but I like the layout. It's a nice track and I'm happy to be here."
After missing the last two rounds, Gunter Shaldach made a successful return to SPEED GT competition by ending the day second on the practice sheets in the No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper. The rookie posted a quick time of 1:36.104 (84.283 mph) in the morning session.
Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was third fastest on the day. Davis entered a lap of 1:36.393 (84.031 mph) in the No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra.
The man Davis is chasing in the Drivers' Championship, Michael Galati, was fourth fastest in the No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3. Galati, from Olmsted, Ohio, turned his fastest lap of 1:36.399 (84.025 mph) in the morning session.
Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., ended up fifth on the practice charts with a lap of 1:36.446 (83.984 mph) in the No. 4 Centric Parts/Stoptech Porsche 911 GT3. His teammate, Sofronas, was sixth on the combined times, but topped the second session.
A brief, but strong, shower fell just before the second of the SPEED GT practice sessions, making all times a bit slower. Sofronas' No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 came out on top with a 1:37.174 (83.355 mph).
"The conditions were pretty stable throughout the 25-minute session, so it allowed us to gage a setup based on those conditions since they were consistent," Sofronas said. "I was working on getting front-end grip. My car is having issues turning in and getting the grip to get down into the corner and the apex. For the most part we balanced it out and I was able to carry some good speed. It was very comfortable and I think that's why we had some good speed out there.
"The car's working great. I've got StopTech brakes on the car and brakes are so important in the rain to balance out the car. The Moton Shocks we've been adjusting throughout their range and we've found the sweet spot. Braking and handling are what you need in the rain and we've got both of them with StopTech and Moton."
Sofronas too was enjoying the new circuit, one of two new road courses that make up New Jersey Motorsports Park.
"I like this track," Sofronas said. "I like high-speed tracks and the first two-thirds are third, fourth, fifth gear corners, which suits my driving style. Any high-speed track with a lot of high-speed sweepers, I'm in favor of."
Point leader Randy Pobst (Porsche 911 GT3) could only manage seventh on the combined practice times. He was followed by Brian Simo (Dodge Viper), Mike Davis (Ford Mustang Cobra) and Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette).
Qualifying for Round Nine of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. (EDT) today. Live timing and lap notes are available at www.world-challenge.com. Racing will commence at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday and will air on SPEED, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at noon (EDT).
-credit: scca pro racing