SEBRING, Fla. (March 18, 2004) – Italian Max Angelelli and Cadillac made their respective debuts in grand fashion Thursday, shattering the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT track record to take the pole position for Friday’s Round One race, part of the 52nd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway. Returning driver and former Champion Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, will start outside the front row.
Driving the No. 16 Team Cadillac/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V, Angelelli shattered the track record by more than three seconds with a lap of 2:09.076 (103.195 mph) - 3.570 seconds better than Phil McClure’s 2003 mark of 2:12.646. His time was a full 1.112 seconds faster than Gigliotti’s best lap.
“We’ve spent a lot of time practicing here at Sebring,” Angelelli said. “My best lap, I got a very nice slipstream from my teammate all the way down to turn 17. I had a lot of speed [there] and gained a lot all the way to the end of the lap.”
The pole was the first for a Cadillac in SCCA competition and marked the successful debut of a factory-backed production car from the manufacturer in motorsports.
Not lost in the excitement, Gigliotti, a three-time series Champion who has been on hiatus since 1997, returned in grand fashion with his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Header Chevrolet Corvette ZO6, turning a lap of 2:10.188 (102.313 mph) at the beginning of the session. Angelelli answered some laps later, but Gigliotti’s attempt to steal the pole back was thwarted when he came in contact with another car while on a cool-down lap, breaking a wheel and ending his session.
Defending series Champion Randy Pobst was third quick in his No. 1 Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6. Pobst turned a lap of 2:10.661. Andy Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Calif., qualified fourth in his Cadillac, followed by McClure, of Floris, Iowa, in his Corvette ZO6.
In all, the top eight cars, which also included Tommy Archer (Dodge Viper Competition Coupe), Leighton Reese (Corvette ZO6) and Michael Galati (Audi), were under the previous track record.
John Young, who had recorded the seventh quickest time, was moved to the back of the field for being under weight.
Friday’s Round One race will take its standing start at 4:40 p.m. (Eastern), with Live Timing & Scoring Presented by Cadillac available at www.world-challenge.com. Friday’s race will be broadcast at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, March 21 on SPEED Channel.