PILGRIM LEADS SPEED GT INTO PORTLAND HOPING TO BECOME SEVENTH WINNER IN EIGHT RACES PORTLAND, Ore. (July 28, 2005) -- Despite going winless in the first seven rounds of SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT competition, Andy Pilgrim and...
PILGRIM LEADS SPEED GT INTO PORTLAND HOPING TO BECOME SEVENTH WINNER IN EIGHT RACES
PORTLAND, Ore. (July 28, 2005) -- Despite going winless in the first seven rounds of SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT competition, Andy Pilgrim and his Team Cadillac/XM Radio/Motorola/Bose/On Star Cadillac CTS-V lead the field into Portland with nine and four-point leads in the Drivers' and Manufacturers Championships, respectively, as the series begins the final third of the 2005 season.
The model of consistency, Pilgrim's 2005 tilt hit its first speed bump two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway, when, while running a sixth, his 6.0-liter V8 began to sour, dropping him to eighth and dropping Cadillac out of a points earning position, with his two teammates, Max Papis and Max Angelelli, experiencing their own difficulties.
Portland was the site in 2004 where Pilgrim found himself on the losing end of an incident in the treacherous Festival Curves during a restart, but recovered with a spirited drive from the back of the pack to finish fourth, turning laps faster than any other car on the track in the process. His ability to calmly deal with adversity and still come out with solid finishes has been a trademark of Pilgrim's career, and it currently has him in the drivers' seat for the 2005 Championship.
Pilgrim need look no further than under his own Team Cadillac tent for his toughest competitors, as former Portland Champ Car winner Max Papis and guest driver John Heinricy (who scored a runner-up finish at Mid-Ohio in his only previous SPEED GT run this season), both feel that the Portland track suits the car and expect the best in results.
Defending series and Portland Champion Tommy Archer enters the weekend after returning to the podium for the first time in his c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper since taking the first two wins of the season. Despite being the only two-time winner this season, he struggled with mounting REWARDS weight after his early success. However, those struggles have allowed him to shed some of the weight, and he's now carrying less than at least two of his competitors (Pilgrim and Heinricy). Archer also undoubtedly hopes for a clean weekend, as two separate five-point penalties for contact mean that he enters Portland second in the Drivers' Championship, rather than in the lead.
The Chevrolet Corvette C6s have grabbed everyone's attention of late, with Lou Gigliotti nabbing the two most recent pole positions and the Infineon Raceway win. While the LG Motorsports car will be in attendance at Portland, it won't be Gigliotti behind the wheel, but rather Dino Crescentini, who struck a deal to drive the LG Pro Long Tube/Centric Parts entry before Infineon. Crescentini, who normally drives a Mazda 6 in SPEED Touring Car and comes off his career-best finish of third at Infineon, is not unfamiliar with high-horsepower V8s, as he has plenty of experience in Trans-Am and vintage race cars.
Corvette is not resurgent simply due to Gigliotti's exploits, though, as Leighton Reese's Banner Engineering Corvette was right in the thick of the battle for the lead two weeks ago. Enthralled in a three-way battle for the lead with Gigliotti and the Porsche of Wolf Henzler, Reese and Henzler came together, sending both to the pits and Reese, eventually, out of the race. Additionally, Tony Gaples wheeled his Kleinschmidt, Inc./Black Dog Racing Corvette to a problem-free second place--his career-best finish.
Henzler and his Applied Materials/Farnbacher Loles Motorsport Porsche 911 have never been to Portland, but that never appears to matter to the talented young German, who lights the time sheets up wherever he goes. Robin Liddell, who scored his first win for the AXA Financial/PFAFF Porsche 911 squad at Cleveland, also hopes to find his way back to victory circle after struggling to find qualifying pace at Lime Rock and Infineon. The red-haired Scot still managed solid finishes of eighth and fifth, to slot him into third place in the yearlong standings, but it was an uphill battle from his starting positions outside of the top 10.
With six different winners in the first seven races, the series has held up RACER Magazine's claim that it is the most competitive road racing in the world. In addition to the aforementioned Pilgrim, Heinricy, Reese and Gaples looking for their first wins of 2005, Stu Hayner hopes to stick the fifth different model of car into victory lane as well, making good progress recently with the GMAC Commercial Financing/Trenton Forging Pontiac GTO. Similarly, Michael Galati would love to go to victory lane with the Volvo S60 R. The last time he drove the car was Lime Rock, where he qualified fifth and worked his way back up into the top 10 after a startline stall before a mechanical failure took him out. Galati won the series' first trip to Portland from the pole, driving a similarly all-wheel-drive and turbocharged Audi.
Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Round Eight race is set to make its standing start Sunday, July 31 at 2:25 p.m. (PDT). The race will be broadcast Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. (EDT), 12 p.m. locally.
To follow all of the weekend action, including live timing and scoring, please visit www.world-challenge.com.
-scca pro racing-