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Sebring: Cadillac race report

Cadillac CTS-Vs Finish Second and Fifth in Sebring Pilgrim Takes Runner-Up with Move of the Race, Papis Fifth in World Challenge Debut SEBRING, Fla., March 18, 2005 - Team Cadillac returned to the scene of its first race with a runner-up...

Cadillac CTS-Vs Finish Second and Fifth in Sebring

Pilgrim Takes Runner-Up with Move of the Race, Papis Fifth in World Challenge Debut

SEBRING, Fla., March 18, 2005 - Team Cadillac returned to the scene of its first race with a runner-up finish and two cars in the top five today at Sebring International Raceway. Andy Pilgrim duplicated his second-place finish in last year's season-opening round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT, thanks to a late-race pass around a pair of Porsche 911s that vaulted him from fourth to second. Max Papis fought back from 11th to finish fifth in the 20-lap race in his competition debut with Team Cadillac.

"I ended up in the same place on the podium but took a different journey than last year," said Pilgrim. "It was really a question of saving the tires. The GM Racing engineers started us on scuffed tires and that was a brilliant strategy. In the middle of the race I had better tires than the competition, which enabled me to hold my position and to be aggressive when I needed to. By the end of the race, when I got into second place, everybody was sliding around."

The two Cadillac CTS-Vs started fourth and fifth in the 31-car field after a downpour washed out qualifying and the grid was set by practice speeds. Pilgrim was fourth at the end of the first lap, while Papis fell to ninth when his car bobbled as the green flag fell.

"The rain yesterday made the track completely green and very slick," Pilgrim explained "All the rubber was gone from the beginning of the race."

Pilgrim was up to third by the third lap, a position he held to the midpoint of the 20-lap sprint. Running fourth on Lap 16, he then made an inside pass in the first turn, muscling his four-door sedan past a pair of Porsche 911 Cup sports cars, a move that earned him the "Coolest Move of the Race" award.

"The Vipers were coming hard and I made up my mind to do something," Pilgrim recalled. "I had a bit of a run going into the front straight, positioned myself and got by both of them. It was a surprise to get two of them at once!"

Papis' charge confirmed his standing as one of the most determined drivers in the sport. He moved from 11th to ninth on the third lap, to eighth on the Lap 5, and was seventh by Lap 7. Preserving his tires, Papis held position until Lap 16, when he moved to fifth to clinch another top-five finish for Team Cadillac.

"My first race in the World Challenge was very challenging, a fantastic experience," Papis declared. "It looked to me in the beginning that the Viper and Porsche were pulling away pretty hard, but we worked really hard and made some ground up. It was a great result for Cadillac today with a podium and a fifth."

The Sebring season-opener marks Team Cadillac's second year in the production-based racing series, showcasing the performance of the Cadillac CTS-V luxury performance sedan.

"Today's event was just what I expected in the World Challenge - a hard-fought race with two great Cadillac drivers fighting their way to a top-five finish," said Dave Spitzer, GM Racing program manager for Team Cadillac. "The Porsches and Vipers were fast, and we ran as hard as we could.

"When Andy made the pass of the race, I looked up from my clipboard and saw three cars going into the first turn with my guy on the inside," Spitzer reported. "I thought that was a good sign."

The opening round of the SPEED World Challenge will be televised on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 27. The next event is the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3.

-gm racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Max Papis , Andy Pilgrim