Team Cadillac to start fourth and fifth in St. Pete for World Challenge opener

Pilgrim fourth and O'Connell fifth.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Team Cadillac's Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O'Connell will start the season-opening Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from fourth and fifth positions on the GT grid for today's 50- minute races this weekend.

#8 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R: Andy Pilgrim
#8 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R: Andy Pilgrim

Photo by: Martin W. Spetz

In drying conditions the Pirelli World Challenge GT competitors took to the St. Petersburg 1.8 mile and 14 turn circuit at 8:30 a.m. to set the field for the first of a double race weekend. O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) took to the track in their Cadillac CTS.V.Rs early and put in fast times on slick tires. As the track began to dry the top of the time sheet became crowded with GT3 spec cars taking advantage of their high downforce configurations through the temporary street course. Pilgrim posted the fast time of the Cadillac duo with a 1:14.621 good for a second row starting position in fourth.

"It was a drying track, so a little tricky at the beginning," Pilgrim said. "It got progressively better as it dried out. Particularly Turn Two, wow, very slippery. That was the last place to get grip this morning. Qualifying went pretty much as I thought it would. Our CTS.V.Rs are good on a drying track, very compliant. Once it dried out and you could drive qualifying speeds then my set-up really came in and I had a good car. It was imperative to get as high up as we could on the grid with such a big field. I don't think there was any surprise about the guys who are one-two-three. It is early days. We should be proud of the effort this morning."

O'Connell had a low fuel bobble on his last two laps and recorded a fast time of 1:14.686 good for a third row starting position in fifth.

"When we came into the weekend we thought we would be somewhere between fifth and eight and that is exactly where we ended up today," O'Connell said. "Great job by Andy, getting fourth. I am a tick off in fifth. I think that is what we expected. Team Cadillac did a great job. We did more laps than normal and I started to run low on fuel on the last two laps. I had a good lap going, maybe left a little out there this morning. I have a good race car. There is some really serious competition that has come into the series this year. We are going to have utilize race craft and team work to get to the front. The guys at the front have a second on us, you can't just change the roll bar to make that up. If it rains, which is expected, anything can happen."

The Pirelli World Challenge Championship season opener will take the standing start at the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 28-30. St. Pete is a double race weekend with today's event going off at 3:25 p.m., and Sunday's at 11:25 a.m.

Cadillac Racing

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim
Teams Cadillac Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags andy pilgrim, cadillac, johnny o'connell, scca-pwc