Team Cadillac ready for home game on Detroit's Belle Isle

Andy Pilgrim visited the Belle Isle circuit three weeks ago and had the chance to see the track improvements first hand.

DETROIT - Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O'Connell are ready for the Cadillac Racing home game at the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge on Detroit's Belle Isle, May 31-June 2.

Andy Pilgrim, Cadillac Racing  Cadillac CTS-V.R
Andy Pilgrim, Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R

Photo by: Martin W. Spetz

O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) hopes to repeat his results from 2012 when he drove his No. 3 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe racer to victory in both rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Series, proving critical to his championship run.

Teammate Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) drove his No. 8 CTS-V to third and fourth place finishes. Pilgrim comes into the event second in points with O'Connell sitting in third.

O'Connell posted his first win of the 2013 season nine days ago at the Circuit of the America's (COTA) where he also started from pole position in the double race weekend. In the second race he placed 17th as a result of car trouble. Pilgrim posted double podium finishes at COTA with a third place in the first race and a second place run in the second race.

The 2.3-mile, 14-turn modified street course that traverses through picturesque Belle Isle, located in the middle of the Detroit River, and just east of the Renaissance Center where General Motors headquarters is located provides extra motivation for the Team Cadillac drivers.

"Any time you can look off in the distance of a race track and see the Ren Cen and you have the president of the company watching, that's not pressure is it," O'Connell said. "Of course there is pressure. You always want to do well in Detroit. Last year we were very fortunate, some of our competition had issues.

I was in the right place at the right time to take two wins. It is going to be tough to repeat. Our competition has really stepped up this year. Everyone at Team Cadillac knows it is a big weekend."

The Georgia resident has mixed feelings about the Detroit track changes.

"I think the revised track with the big run down to Turn Three is going to be good," he said. "It provides another passing zone. Although I did like the twisty section from last year, it was a challenge to drive through there fast. The speed aspect for the fans will be much more apparent with that new run down into three.

With the new pavement, the track is going to be superfast. Our engineers have some work to do with the revisions and the new surface. The Cadillac Racing engineers are up to the challenge. It is one of those deals where our team will look at the circuit, assess the changes and then build that data into great CTS-V race cars for Andy and myself."

Pilgrim knows the importance of the Detroit Grand Prix weekend.

"If you do well or get on the podium in Detroit, it is just extra good,"Pilgrim said. "Johnny won both races last year and I got on the podium. There are a lot of GM and Cadillac people there and they bring a lot of company pride and you want to do well in front of them. We also have the full contingent of Pratt & Miller people on hand as they are located in the metro area as well."

Pilgrim visited the Belle Isle circuit three weeks ago and had the chance to see the track improvements first hand.

"I think the organizers have done a great job with the track," he said. "Having the extra braking and passing zone coming out of Turn Two is really nice. The new segment creates another high-speed passing area for us to get by the GTS class cars.

There used to be a huge bump going into Turn Three, I am glad that they have removed that portion, it really compromised the whole corner. The repaving of the track has fixed all of the problems that they had last year. Now we just need the weather to cooperate."

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim
Teams Cadillac Racing
Article type Preview
Tags cadillac, detroit belle isle, o'connell, pilgrim, scca-wc