Pilgrim Qualifies Cadillac on Front Row for Road Atlanta SPEED GT Aschenbach and Fellows to Start Fifth and Eighth for Team Cadillac in Battle of Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 4, 2007 - "It's a war, and it's going to continue to be a war." So...
Pilgrim Qualifies Cadillac on Front Row for Road Atlanta SPEED GT
Aschenbach and Fellows to Start Fifth and Eighth for Team Cadillac in Battle of Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 4, 2007 - "It's a war, and it's going to continue to be a war." So said Team Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim after qualifying second for Friday's SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Road Atlanta. Pilgrim will start on the front row alongside pole winner Randy Pobst, who now leads Pilgrim by five points in the drivers championship. Pobst's Porsche took the pole with a lap at 1:25.689 (106.711 mph), while Pilgrim qualified his Cadillac CTS- V at 1:25.917 (106.428 mph), followed by Pobst's teammate Michael Galati. The top-three qualifiers all bettered the track record set in 2006 at 1:26.441.
Reigning SPEED GT champion Lawson Aschenbach qualified his No. 1 Cadillac CTS- V fifth (1:26.551/105.648 mph), and Ron Fellows will start the No. 16 Cadillac CTS- V (1:26.797/105.349 mph) from the eighth spot on the grid.
"Normally I'm quite happy with second, but today I'm not happy with second," Pilgrim reported. "Don't get me wrong, starting on the front row is fine, but Randy gained another point on me by winning the pole. It would be great if Randy and I were able to just disappear at the start and then fight it out, but I know it's not going to happen that way. There are a lot of very fast cars right behind us, and we're going to be under heavy pressure right from the start."
Qualifying at Road Atlanta introduced two twists: a new track surface and an across-the-board weight increase for SPEED GT cars that added 104 pounds to the Cadillac CTS- V 's base weight. The combination of high grip, fast cornering speeds and additional weight made demands on the shaved street tires used in the series. The first lap proved to be the quickest lap for the fastest qualifiers.
"It's been a struggle to find a setup that works with this additional weight," said Aschenbach, who is carrying 80 pounds of REWARDS success ballast on top of the series-mandated weight increase. "I'm driving the heaviest car in the race, and it's difficult to keep the tires under the car. We just missed it in qualifying - not by much, but enough that we're starting fifth. The points are critical now, and qualifying can decide the championship. Qualifying fifth is not where we want to be."
Fellows was 16th after his second lap, but he stayed on track when the frontrunners pitted and then moved up to eighth on his next circuit. A fourth hot lap showed no further improvement, so the Canadian ace brought his Cadillac to the pit lane.
"You've really got to get a quick time on the first lap, but I got caught up with a Corvette driver who wanted to race," Fellows explained. "That messed up my one good lap, but we stayed out and managed to get back to eighth.
"I needed more front grip," he noted. "When the car doesn't turn, you have to slow down - and at this place, slowing down for the fast corners is not a good thing. We're certainly not where we want to be, but my engineer, Lynn Bishop, and the Team Cadillac crew will figure it out and we'll be closer for the race."
Cadillac has won the last three SPEED GT events at Road Atlanta, and holds a three-point advantage over Chevrolet in the manufacturers championship going into the penultimate round of the 10-race series. Porsche picked up a point for winning the pole and now trails Cadillac by six markers.
"Tire conservation is going to be the biggest thing in the race," Aschenbach predicted. "Team Cadillac always gives me a good race car, but we've still got some work to do."
-credit: gm racing