Team Cadillac Qualifies Fourth and Fifth in Long Beach Pilgrim and Fellows Earn Top-Five Starting Spots for Third Round of SPEED GT LONG BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2006 - Rush hour traffic was heavy this morning on the streets of Long Beach as ...
Team Cadillac Qualifies Fourth and Fifth in Long Beach
Pilgrim and Fellows Earn Top-Five Starting Spots for Third Round of SPEED GT
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2006 - Rush hour traffic was heavy this morning on the streets of Long Beach as qualifying for the third round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT took place at 8 a.m. on the 1.968-mile temporary course. After the usual fender benders and traffic congestion that are part of the morning commute in Southern California, Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Ron Fellows qualified their CTS-V race cars fourth and fifth respectively for the SPEED GT race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The early morning SPEED GT qualifying session kicked off the day's schedule on a cold and slippery track. The session was interrupted by a red flag and traffic was heavy throughout the 20 minutes of qualifying as drivers jockeyed to get in a fast lap. Fellows turned his quickest time of 1:27.059 (81.379 mph) on his second timed lap. The Canadian road racing ace returned to the course after the red-flag period, but he was unable to improve his time after encountering traffic. When the track went green for the final 10 minutes of qualifying, Pilgrim put in a flyer on his fourth circuit with a 1:26.979 time (81.454 mph).
"It was a bit of a strange session," said Pilgrim, the reigning SPEED GT champion. "The first hot lap is usually the best for the tires, but I was in traffic and then a car crashed right in front of me. When we went out again after the red flag I was coming up on traffic at the end of the lap, but fortunately I managed to get in a good time."
Tommy Archer won the pole in a Viper with a fastest time of 1:26.346 (82.051 mph). Lou Gigliotti qualified second in a Corvette and Mike McCann third in a Viper.
"We're having to work very hard to stay up with the other guys on this course," Pilgrim explained. "We're carrying a lot of weight under the SCCA rules, and on this relatively narrow course with a lot transitions, we're right on the limit."
Fellows is making his first start of the season with Team Cadillac. He last raced on the Long Beach street circuit 10 years ago in the Trans-Am series.
"The track was quite slick on the first lap and I think that caught some people out," Fellows observed. "Today's qualifying session was the first time that the SPEED GT cars were first out. It took two laps for the tires to come in, and I think a lot of that was just really the race track getting better. That's when I cut my good lap time.
"They've done an excellent job with this track," Fellows noted. "It's more wide open than most street circuits and there are some passing opportunities. Every street course puts a premium on precision driving, and it will be a challenge for 29 laps. Certainly we'll be racing on the edge."