O'Connell post two third place finishes in the first two rounds of the season on the street circuit in St. Petrsburg
St. PETERSBURG, Fla., - Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim drove their Cadillac CTS-V race cars to third and fifth-place finishes in race two of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this morning.
Based upon their fastest race laps from yesterday, O'Connell started today's round two of the double event weekend from fourth, with teammate Pilgrim starting directly behind him in sixth. Unlike the first race, the Pirelli World Challenge officials went back to the traditional standing start for this morning's race.
With light precipitation in the air, the Cadillac CTS-V racers of O'Connell and Pilgrim jumped off of the starting grid and headed to Turn One. O'Connell was able to put his CTS-V Coupe between the Corvette of Michael Skeen and the apex picking up a position in fifth with teammate Pilgrim following in behind. As the race progressed the threat of rain went away and left the Pirelli World Challenge competitors to run the 50-minute event without a caution. On lap 30, the front runners began to experience problems. Early race leader Alex Figge, No. 9 Volvo, experienced engine problems and retired, he was soon followed in by second place runner Dalziel with a flat tire on his Porsche. Keeping the pressure on, O'Connell was able to drive his No. 3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V Coupe to a podium paying position of third. Pilgrim came to the checkered flag in fifth.
"I slid more than I thought at the start," O'Connell said. "I ran fifth pretty much the entire race. I ran clean. Looking at the total weekend, I ran about as perfect as I could have yesterday and today. I can honestly say that I got 110% out of the car. Thanks to the misfortune of Dalziel yesterday, I finished third and two guys had trouble in front of me today, which put me on the podium again. Team Cadillac puts great cars under us and we had a pretty good weekend."
Pilgrim experienced some handling issues in race two.
"There was a tiny bit of precipitation on the warm-up lap, but not enough to affect anyone," Pilgrim said. "I was able to get a good start. I got by Skeen's [Mike] Corvette at the start. I knew I was going to be running with him again, like yesterday. He was a little better around more of the track than I was today. As long as I could lean on the brakes, I was alright. We had a slight push in the car all weekend and we just couldn't quite figure it out. About 15 laps into the race, the brake pedal began to get a little soft, so I had to back out of it."
Round two of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships Honda St. Peter Grand Prix was won by James Sofronas in an Audi R8.
Rounds three and four of the Pirelli World Challenge Series will be at the Long Beach Grand Prix presented by KIA, April 19-21.