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Laguna Seca: Team Cadillac qualifying report

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 20, 2007 - The stage is set for Sunday's final round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim, Ron Fellows and Lawson Aschenbach qualified second, fourth and ninth...

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 20, 2007 - The stage is set for Sunday's final round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim, Ron Fellows and Lawson Aschenbach qualified second, fourth and ninth respectively for the title-deciding race.

Pilgrim and points-leader Randy Pobst battled for the pole, with the point going to Pobst's Porsche by .057 seconds. Pobst and Pilgrim both posted their quickest times on their second flying laps, with Pobst stopping the clocks at 1:29.707 (89.812 mph) and Pilgrim at 1:29.764 (89.755 mph). Michael Galati qualified his Porsche third, followed by Fellows at 1:30.209 (89.312 mph). Aschenbach, second in the drivers championship and now trailing Pobst by nine points, qualified ninth with a best time of 1:30.720 (88.809 mph).

"Starting on the front row is a good position to be in, but I'd really like to have been six hundredths of a second quicker and starting on the pole," said Pilgrim. "Just six hundredths and we would have won the pole, got the bonus point, and clinched the manufacturers championship for Cadillac."

Cadillac now leads Porsche by nine points in the manufacturers' standings going into the season finale. Cadillac can capture its second SPEED GT championship in three years by finishing sixth or better in Sunday's 50-minute race.

Pilgrim was relentless in his pursuit of the pole. He completed two hot laps, then returned to the pits for a tire pressure adjustment. He then went back on the track after 13 minutes of the 20-minute session had passed and completed four more hot laps, but couldn't better his previous qualifying time.

"The track was dusty at the start, but the second lap I did was really good," Pilgrim reported. "I thought there might be a quicker time out there, and the track was definitely better when I went back out. Unfortunately I got held up by traffic three times in three attempts to get a quick lap. I think we could have taken the pole, so I'm upset with the guys who were coming out of the pits and not using their mirrors."

Fellows used a different qualifying strategy, staying out for nearly 12 minutes after the green flag. He made a final qualifying run at the end of the session, but his second lap proved to be his quickest.

"I thought some more rear tire pressure would help, so I was trying to get the pressure up before putting the hammer down," said Fellows. "I was off a little through Turns 3, 4 and 5, but seemed to make it up through the fast sections in Turns 6, 9 and 10. I got down to a 1:30.2, and that's better than I thought we'd qualify based on the run we made on new tires yesterday. I'm quite pleased to be starting in a similar spot as we did in Road Atlanta.

"Obviously we'd prefer to have Lawson in front for the drivers championship, but this should be a very interesting race to watch," Fellows predicted. "The pressure is on Pobst, and we'll see how he handles a couple of Cadillacs chasing him."

Aschenbach was hampered in qualifying by 120 pounds of REWARDS success ballast after winning the preceding race. Like his teammates, Aschenbach's second qualifying lap was his quickest, although he went back out for four minutes halfway through the session in pursuit of a faster time.

"I'm happy with the setup and thought we had a good chance to get a decent qualifying spot, but carrying 120 pounds makes it tough," said Aschenbach. "We weren't really expecting a top-three or top-five qualifying position, but wanted to be closer to the front than we are now. We're just going to have to race well and see what happens."

"The good news is that we have two Cadillacs qualified in the top-four positions and all three starting in the top-ten," noted Team Cadillac technical director Lynn Bishop. "This is the best we've run at Laguna Seca.

"It appeared that the track slowed down a little from yesterday morning's practice," Bishop observed. "The drivers said it was slick in a few spots, but they did a good job adapting to it and brought the Cadillac race cars home with a great qualifying performance."

-credit: gm racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Lawson Aschenbach , Michael Galati