Three Cadillac CTS-Vs Finish in the Top Six on Wet and Dry Toronto Street Course Hometown Hero Fellows Drives to Runner-Up Finish TORONTO, Ontario, July 8, 2007 - Team Cadillac CTS- V racers Ron Fellows, Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach...
Three Cadillac CTS-Vs Finish in the Top Six on Wet and Dry Toronto Street
Hometown Hero Fellows Drives to Runner-Up Finish
TORONTO, Ontario, July 8, 2007 - Team Cadillac CTS- V racers Ron Fellows, Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach survived constantly changing weather conditions and heated competition to finish second, fourth and sixth respectively in the sixth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT series on the Toronto street course.
On what was originally forecast to be a very hot and sunny day, Mother Nature showed who's really the boss by bringing intermittent rain to the Toronto area. During prerace ceremonies it appeared all competitors had gambled on the street course continuing to dry as teams elected to start the race on dry weather tires. However, as the competitors pulled away from the grid for their warm-up lap, the sky turned dark gray and the clouds began to drop rain. In the short period it took to complete the warm-up lap, Aschenbach and his race engineer Brad Buenting decided to bring Aschenbach in for rain tires from his eighth-place starting spot on the grid.
"We took a bit of a gamble to come in for rain tires and start from pit lane at the back of the pack, but it turned out to be a smart move and we really had nothing to lose," recalled Aschenbach. "With the track getting wet quickly, starting from the eighth spot might have been an even bigger gamble going into the first few corners in traffic."
Rain continued to fall in the opening laps of the race. While Aschenbach was threading his way quickly up through the field on his rain tires, Fellows and Pilgrim were driving hard at the front to keep pace with the K-Pax Porsche 911 GT-3s of Randy Pobst and Michael Galati. The Porsches, running at the lighter weight mandated by the series, pulled away quickly from the field while Fellows and Pilgrim tried to keep them in sight from their third and fourth positions on the starting grid.
"Today was a decent day for Team Cadillac, but we really didn't have anything for those Porsches of Pobst and Galati," offered Fellows after the race. "We'll have to go back and do our homework to be able to challenge the Porsches for wins."
By lap 25 of the 31-lap race, Pobst had lapped the entire field up to the seventh place competitor and was over 40 seconds ahead of the second place CTS- V of Fellows.
While Fellows eventually worked his way past Galati into second place after Galati spun, stalled and then restarted on lap 13, Pilgrim's race pace changed with the weather as he and his race engineer Ken Flory had gambled on a full dry chassis setup for the race.
"We rolled the dice hoping for dry race conditions and changed from softer springs for firmer ones before the race," Pilgrim reported. "Because of that the car was a real handful in the wet conditions, but would then come right back to me as the line began to dry again nearing the end of the race."
In the dry laps Pilgrim ran as high as fourth. Then, when the track got wet in the middle of the race he dropped as far back as sixth before driving back up to fourth as the track dried in the closing laps of the race.
"I guess I'll be happy with the fourth place finish for today, but I wish the full-course yellow hadn't happened and I'd had a chance to try to catch Galati for third," said Pilgrim.
While Fellows and Pilgrim were driving hard near the front, Aschenbach, the only driver on rain tires, was turning laps a full second faster than everyone else and progressing through the field quickly in the rain. By lap three Aschenbach was already up to sixth place and then on lap eight he made his way past Tommy Archer's Dodge Viper for fifth place.
"Though I knew if the track began to dry we'd be in trouble, in the wet my CTS- V was absolutely perfect and it was a lot of fun to drive it up through the field," recalled Aschenbach. "It was a very physical race - I think I got hit four times, including getting hit in the back on the last turn of the last lap by Archer to take fifth place. I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose because I know he's a better driver than that. I'll just take the sixth-place finish today, lose some REWARDS weight for the upcoming Mid-Ohio race, and focus on finishing as high as possible in the last four races of the season."
Local hero Fellows was philosophical after the race: "Second place is as good as we could have hoped for today and it will keep Cadillac in the lead of the manufacturers championship. I'm really looking forward to running the CTS- V again at Mosport though."
Sunday's SPEED GT race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, July 14, at 12 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel. The next event for Team Cadillac is on the challenging Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on Sunday, July 22 at 4:15pm.
July 22, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
-credit: gm racing/tc