SEBRING, Fla. (March 19, 2004) – Italian Max Angelelli and Team Cadillac teammate Andy Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Fla., put on an impressive display in their SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT debut at Sebring International Raceway today, as part of the Mobil 1 52nd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring event. While polesitter Angelelli led the majority of the event to capture his first SPEED GT win, Pilgrim stalled the car at the start of the race and had to pass 28 cars to finish second. Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio, finished third.
After much anticipation as to how the Cadillac CTS-V would perform under race conditions, all questions were answered when Angelelli piloted the No. 16 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V to a solid win. He edged out his teammate by 0.358-second margin of victory in a formation finish at a record average speed of 99.903 mph.
“I knew I had a good car,” Angelelli said. “My car, at the moment, is slightly faster than the Audi and I just drove to the win.
Pilgrim, who drove the No. 8 Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V, knew something was wrong with his car just prior to the start, Pilgrim’s car stalled. The result left Pilgrim hoping the cars behind his third starting spot would not hit him as they went by. Despite the snafu, Pilgrim recovered nicely setting the new fast race lap record of 2:10.249 (101.272 mph) as he passed every car in the field except his teammate to capture second place. It was Pilgrim’s ninth career SPEED World Challenge podium finish.
“I noticed coming out of the pits the clutch was a bit low, so I put the clutch in and it was coming up only half the distance off the floor,” Pilgrim said of his start. “So, I thought, ‘No big deal.’ When I fired it up to do the parade lap, it started creeping forward almost as soon as I lifted the clutch pedal off the floor. And, I thought, ‘This isn’t good. Something’s going on here.’ When it came time to do the pace lap and came back to the start, it was at least 30-seconds before the reds lights [went out]. It started creeping forward. And, my clutch was all the way in and I was pushing it through the floor as far as I could. I just couldn’t get it to not creep. So, I hit the brakes and it was holding. I was trying to hit the brake and the accelerator to keep the revs going. And, finally it just stalled out. It heated up the clutch to the point to where it just stalled the motor. I am just dead lucky it started and I didn’t fry the clutch. I was so thankful no one hit me at the start.
“The car was unbelievable,” Pilgrim said. “The handling was unreal. I could get that thing in the corner and get power down so much earlier than everybody else.”
Five-time series Champion Galati put on an impressive driving display of his own as he rocketed his No. 2 Audi Certified Pre-Owned/Champion Audi RS 6 from his seventh starting position to first on the first lap. As a result, Galati won the Remus Power Move of the race. Galati maintained second after Angelelli went past on lap three, holding off Phil McClure and Tommy Archer.
“I had a tough qualifying [session] because we had a little problem with the brakes and the guys fixed it so I was hoping to get a good start,” Galati said of the start. “I couldn’t believe it I got a good start and I was second [moving to first by corner three]. The car was very good. I don’t think I had anything for them [Cadillac].”
In his return to the series after a 12-year hiatus, Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished fourth in his Dodge Viper Competition Coupe and Phil McClure, of Floris, Iowa, finished fifth his Corvette ZO6.
Defending series Champion Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., shot off the line and led into turn one from his second starting position, however, a broken power steering belt broke essentially ended his day by the time he was in turn three. Pobst finished 26th.
This was Cadillac’s first professional race win since 1949.
Rookie Mike McCann, of Canton, Ohio, won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 21 positions throughout the race.
Angelelli takes the lead in the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship with 34 points, followed by Pilgrim (27 points), Galati (26), Archer (24) and McClure (22).
Cadillac leads the SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with nine points, followed by Audi (five), Dodge (three) and Chevrolet (two).
The SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Championship next visits Lime Rock Park May 29-31, headlining the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Grand Prix.
Today’s race will initially air at 1:00 p.m. (EST), March 21 on SPEED Channel.
Link to this story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=cadi-debut