LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 2, 2005) – Max “The Ax” Angelelli, of Monte Carlo, led a strong, race-long team effort for Team Cadillac Sunday afternoon, leading virtually start to finish of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race, part of the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Angelelli’s teammate Max Papis, of Miami, Fla., finished second, and the Porsche of James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., followed in third.-30-
Polesitter Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, made a clean break from the standing start in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Header Chevrolet Corvette C6, but Angelelli was a bit better and took over the lead before the SPEED GT field reached turn one of the 1.53-mile, seven-turn circuit.
Once on top, Angelelli never lost his early lead, averaging 81.817 mph over 45 laps and taking the win in the No. 12 Cadillac/XM Radio/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V by 1.549 seconds over teammate Papis’ similar No. 16 Cadillac. Sofronas was 7.221 seconds off of Angelelli’s pace in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group/Tecmark Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Angelelli stayed clean throughout a race that included two separate full-course cautions and many potential obstacles in the form of lapped cars on the short course.
When asked in the post-race press conference whether his team had held back during the early part of the week, Angelelli light-heartedly, but quickly, put the issue to rest.
“Well, actually, we were just out there playing,” Angelelli said smiling. “No, seriously, we try very hard and manufacturer points are what we want. So, it doesn’t make any sense for us to stop fighting. We were pushing this week.”
Angelelli pushed hard enough early on to turn the fastest lap time of the race with a 55.005 (100.136 mph) on the eighth lap of the 50-minute race, which was part of an effort that kept his teammate Papis at bay.
Papis said the track seemed to favor those who were in front.
“This track is a very unique track,” Papis said. “Momentum is very important and it is very difficult to pass. When you are in front here, just having a clear track ahead of you helps the lap time.
“A couple of times, we got into traffic right at the wrong spots, and although the people in the back were really nice, you could easily lose three or four seconds a lap. I think that was part of the reason the gap [between him and Sofronas] was there.”
Finishing third was quite the accomplishment for Sofronas, who dropped from fourth to ninth after a spin on lap 13 at turn one. On his home track, Sofronas recovered, with some help, to finish on the podium for the first time in his SPEED GT career.
“I was just kicking myself,” Sofronas said. “But I made up for it on the restart [after the first caution], which was probably the best restart of my life. I just timed it perfectly because I know where the flagger drops it here after being here for so long.
“It was a heck of a race, and I knew if I could get some clean run from there, I’d be okay.”
Stu Hayner, of Yorba Linda, Calif., turned in a second-straight top-five performance by winding up fourth in his No. 5 GMAC Commercial Financial/Trenton Forging Pontiac GTO. German Wolf Henzler, in the No. 55 Applied Materials/Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, finished fifth.
Henzler won the B&M Oil Coolers “Coolest Move the Race” Award for his pass on Cadillac’s Andy Pilgrim to take over fifth position.
Rookie No. 42 Mark LoPilato won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing seven positions from 23rd starting position to finish 16th.
Sonny Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Conn., was the highest finishing Winning Team Racing Apparel Rookie of the Year finisher at 11th.
Pilgrim earned sixth place, which was enough to extend his lead in the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship Presented by RACER magazine. His 145 points leads Tommy Archer’s 134, followed by Robin Liddell (130), Papis (121) and Henzler (107).
Cadillac’s strong sixth-round performance moved its point total to 42 and maintained its lead in the SPEED World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship over Porsche (36), Dodge (23) and Chevrolet (13).
The SCCA SPEED GT race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 3, at 5 p.m (EST).
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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