Team Cadillac Sweeps Front Row in Mosport SPEED GT Qualifying Fellows on Pole, Pilgrim Second in Wet Qualifying Session BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Sept. 2, 2006 - With the wind rising and the temperature falling, Team Cadillac was racing the rain in ...
Team Cadillac Sweeps Front Row in Mosport SPEED GT Qualifying
Fellows on Pole, Pilgrim Second in Wet Qualifying Session
BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Sept. 2, 2006 - With the wind rising and the temperature falling, Team Cadillac was racing the rain in qualifying for today's SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Mosport International Raceway. Cadillac drivers Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim accomplished their first objective of the weekend by qualifying first and second respectively, capturing the front row for what is predicted to be a wet and wild race.
Fellows turned his quickest time at 1:25.498 (103.539 mph) on his first flying lap in the No. 16 Cadillac CTS- V just as rain began to fall on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course near Toronto. Pilgrim ran his quick time of 1:25.522 (103.510 mph) on his fourth circuit following a quick pit stop to adjust his No. 1 Cadillac CTS- V to the worsening weather conditions. The two black Cadillac race cars were separated by just .024 seconds.
"With the rain coming, I figured I'd have to do it in the first lap," Fellows said. "I had some traffic, but I couldn't waste any time. I knew I needed to get a good lap time while it was still semi-dry."
Fellows, a resident of nearby Mississauga, Ont., put his knowledge of his home track to good use as the weather worsened and he lost radio contact with his pit crew.
"I could see it was raining in Turn 5, which is usually where it rains first here," he reported. "I stayed on the track after that good first lap because it looked like it might dry up, but then it started raining hard and I came in. Thankfully I could see the scoreboard going into Turn 8, and I saw my No. 16 in the top spot."
Pilgrim used skillful car control to avoid disaster on his first lap, then vaulted from 19th to second in the closing minutes of the 20-minute session.
"The track was really slippery - I had a big lockup and nearly slid off the track in the bottom of Turn 2 on my first lap," said the reigning SPEED GT champion. "I knew that wasn't a good lap, but it was the best I could do under the conditions. I came in, the crew made some changes to the car, and they told me to try again. The rain had eased off just slightly, and I thought now was the time to do it - and I did it!"
That performance earned four bonus points for Pilgrim, who came into the eighth round of the SPEED GT series ranked third in the drivers' standings.
"We knew going into this race it was going to take a championship-caliber performance from the entire team," said Team Cadillac program manager Dave Spitzer. "Everyone on the crew is pumped up to be racing for a win again. I'm so proud of Andy: When he got out of the car, I told him, 'You are a champion!' He pulled out some magic. Ron went out knowing that the first lap was going to be the one, and he found a way."
Team Cadillac's front-row starting positions could prove invaluable if the predicted heavy rain arrives during the 50-minute race that is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. EDT.
"Starting at the front is going to help because it's likely to be mayhem racing in the rain," Spitzer noted. "If it's actually wet, it will be a single-file start so our drivers will have a clean run into Turn 1. After that it's going to come down to the team that has the best drivers, and I'm very confident in my guys."
Fellows' outlook was realistic: "It's going to be a lottery if it's wet," said the Canadian road racing ace.
The SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Mosport International Raceway will start at 5:15 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 2. The 50-minute race will be televised tape-delayed on the SPEED Channel on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m. EDT.
-credit: tc/gm racing