Cadillac Aims for Manufacturers Championship in SPEED World Challenge Team Cadillac to Begin Quest for GT Title in Sebring SEBRING, Fla. - Once proclaimed the "Standard of the World" by England's Royal Automobile Club, Cadillac is aiming to set...
Cadillac Aims for Manufacturers Championship in SPEED World Challenge
Team Cadillac to Begin Quest for GT Title in Sebring
SEBRING, Fla. - Once proclaimed the "Standard of the World" by England's Royal Automobile Club, Cadillac is aiming to set the standard for performance in the SPEED World Challenge in 2005. Cadillac's first season in the production-based road racing series saw GM's luxury performance brand capture poles, win races and finish as runner-up in the 2004 manufacturers championship standings. Building on that strong foundation, Team Cadillac will begin the quest for its first title in the season-opening SPEED World Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 18.
"Team Cadillac's goal in 2005 is to win the manufacturers championship in SPEED GT," said Dave Spitzer, GM Racing program manager for Team Cadillac. "We recognize this is a formidable task against strong competition, but I believe we have the car, the team and the drivers to accomplish it. We also look forward to Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Max Papis racing for the drivers championship."
Cadillac's CTS-V made a strong impression in its rookie season. Based on the production CTS-V, Team Cadillac's race-prepared CTS-Vs won the pole and posted a 1-2 finish in their competition debut in Sebring, Fla. In 10 events, Team Cadillac posted three victories, four poles and five podium finishes.
"We achieved outstanding results in Team Cadillac's first season in the series against experienced competitors," said Spitzer. "Our success on the race track translated to success in the showroom. Seeing the CTS-V four-door sedan racing with - and beating - two-seat sports cars is changing the perception of Cadillac among knowledgeable car buyers."
Team Cadillac is returning to the World Challenge arena with the same race-winning CTS-V sedans that went into the 2004 season finale in a tie for the GT manufacturers title. The driver lineup features a pair of championship-winning drivers as Andy Pilgrim is joined by new teammate Max Papis, the reigning Grand American champion. A third Cadillac CTS-V race car will compete in selected events with an all-star lineup of guest drivers.
"We're going into the new season with confidence in the ability of our drivers and in the capabilities of our Cadillac CTS-V race cars," Spitzer noted. "In our first season, every track was a new challenge for us. Now after a year of development, we know our team's strengths, we know that our cars have excellent reliability, and we have a database for our setups. Most important, we know how to focus our engineering efforts on the track. The crew is virtually intact from last season, so we have a deep well of real-world experience."
Papis shares Spitzer's enthusiasm. This versatile racer, who has Formula 1, Champ Car and Indy Racing League rides on his resume, will do double-duty at several events. He is competing in the SPEED World Challenge with Team Cadillac and in American Le Mans Series endurance events with Corvette Racing, while also racing in the International Race of Champions invitational series and defending his Grand American championship with a Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototype.
"You don't often get the opportunity to experience the same track with two different cars on the same day," said Papis. "It will definitely make me a better driver. It takes a few minutes to adjust to the car, but within three or four laps I'm up to speed.
"A driver needs to know how to go fast, and I feel very comfortable with the Cadillac CTS-V," he explained. "It's a car that has been through a lot of development. After driving open-wheel cars and prototypes, I had to adjust my style to suit a production-based race car. The first few races are going to be a steep learning curve, not only learning how the car behaves under racing conditions but also about the drivers I am racing with."
Papis is paired with Pilgrim, winner of more than 50 races in 10 series (including a victory in the 24-hour Daytona race) and multiple championships.
"The rules in the SPEED World Challenge are rather restrictive, so little things can mean a lot," Pilgrim observed. "Team Cadillac has been working very hard on refining our suspension setups and traction control system. We're smarter after a season in the series; we know how to do standing starts, and we know how to use our track time as efficiently as possible during the limited practice that's available. I'm looking forward to an even more successful second year for Team Cadillac."
The SPEED World Challenge is taking it to the streets at two new venues in 2005. Temporary circuits in St. Petersburg and Denver and a wide-open airport course in Cleveland will add a new dimension to the production-based racing series.
"Street courses tend to have low grip and lots of bumps," Spitzer noted. "With its long wheelbase and powerful GM small-block V-8 engine, the Cadillac CTS-V is at its best on fast, high-speed courses. We'll have to work very hard to be competitive on street circuits with tight corners and short straights. With the first three races in Florida and Georgia, there's also a strong possibility that we'll be racing in the rain. Cadillac's production traction control is state-of-the-art, and GM Racing is adapting this system to the unique demands of road racing."
After its breakout season in 2004, Cadillac's unconventional racing program is a winner regardless of the results on the track. Creating enthusiasm among customers and dealers is as important to Team Cadillac as trophies. "Racing is a very compelling way to show the performance side of Cadillac," said Pilgrim. "When I was speaking to 300 of Cadillac's top dealers at the Super Bowl, they cheered when a video showed me passing a Viper. And when I was at a gas station refueling the CTS-V that I drive on the street, two 17-year-olds came up and talked with me about the V-series. They knew the specs on the engine, the suspension, the brakes, everything. Experiences like these tell me that racing is moving the needle."
Sophomore seasons are notoriously difficult, but Team Cadillac has the equipment, the expertise, and the attitude to take on the world in the SPEED World Challenge.