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Road Atlanta: GT qualifying notes

Angelelli Gets It Right From the Start, Wins SCCA Speed GT Pole at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 23, 2004) -- Max Angelelli took a very business-like approach to the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship qualifying session Thursday at...

Angelelli Gets It Right From the Start, Wins SCCA Speed GT Pole at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 23, 2004) -- Max Angelelli took a very business-like approach to the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship qualifying session Thursday at Road Atlanta.

Angelelli, of Monte Carlo, Monoco, put his No. 16 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V on the pole in the very first lap of the 20-minute session and set a new track record in the process. Angelelli earned his series-high third pole position of the season with a fast lap of 1:27.734, an average speed of 104.224 mph on Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course.

In all, six drivers bettered the previous mark of 1:28.479 (103.346 mph) set by Mike Fitzgerald in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in 2003. Following Angelelli were 3R-Racing teammates, Phil McClure and Tommy Archer, Angelelli's teammate, Andy Pilgrim, and Robin Liddell.

Angelelli only took two laps during the session, but no one could touch his very first trip around Road Atlanta.

"It was pretty good." Angelelli said. "I did my pole on my first lap. I preferred to stay out one more lap because I made a little mistake in my first lap and I didn't know how much of a potential problem that was with the lap time, so I did another lap. It was pretty close in time, so I was satisfied and I'm pretty happy with the car."

McClure, Archer and Pilgrim all qualified within two-tenths of a second of each other while piloting a different make of car.

McClure, of Floris, Iowa had a time of 1:27.958 (103.958 mph) in a No. 73 Aggregate Industries/3R-Racing Corvette Z06. Archer, of Duluth, Minn., drove his Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to quick lap of 1:28.008 (103.899 mph) and Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Fla. -- behind the wheel of a No. 16 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V -- was just a few ticks of the clock behind at 1:28.013 (103.893 mph). Liddell, of Edinburgh, Scotland brought yet another manufacturer into the top five at 1:28.317 (103.536 mph) with his AXA Porsche 911 Cup.

The other major story line to emerge from qualifying was the battle for the coveted SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship.

Both Audi and Cadillac, the top two manufacturer's in the standings, are employing a third driver at Road Atlanta in search of the championship. Team Cadillac has enlisted the services of ALMS driver Johnny O'Connell, while Champion Racing has put World Challenge's all-time leading winner, Peter Cunningham, in one of its Audi RS 6s.

With O'Connell setting the eighth fastest time on Thursday, all three Team Cadillac drivers are solidly in the top 10. Conversely, Cunningham turned in the best effort among the Audis, qualifying 12th, more than a second and a half behind Angelelli. Champion's full-time drivers, Michael Galati, who leads the SPEED GT point standings, and Randy Pobst, were 13th and 15th respectively.

Heading into Round Nine of the championship on Friday, Audi leads Cadillac by nine points (48-39). Cadillac can prevent Audi from clinching the Manufacturers' Championship by finishing ahead of its rival and by putting its top finisher in the top six.

The potential importance of Cadillac's qualifying advantage wasn't lost on Angelelli.

"The good thing is that the Audis are pretty far back, and this is who we are racing against, mainly, for the championship," Angelelli said.

Round Nine of the GT Championship is scheduled to go green at 3:55 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, Sept. 24. Friday's race will air on SPEED Channel at 1:00 p.m. (EDT), Sunday Sept. 26.

For Live Timing Presented by Cadillac, visit www.world-challenge.com.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Robin Liddell , Randy Pobst , Michael Galati , Max Angelelli , Phil McClure , Peter Cunningham