BRASELTON, Ga. (April 17, 2005) – “Mad” Max Papis made sure that it was going to be Team Cadillac’s day one way or another. -30-
Overcoming a slow start in his No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V, Papis came from behind to win the sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Round Three race at Road Atlanta with an average speed of 91.618 mph.
The win was the Italian’s first in SPEED GT and topped off a magical day for Team Cadillac as the No. 8 and No. 12 CTS-Vs driven by Andy Pilgrim, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., and polewinner Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli, finished second and third, respectively.
Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., finished fourth in the No. 1 c3controls/3R-Racing Dodge Viper, and Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., came in a season-best fifth in the No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette C6.
It didn’t appear that the podium was going to be all black after 28 laps, as Robin Liddell, in the No. 66 AXA Financial/PFAFF Porsche 911 Cup, took the lead from then-leader Angelelli on lap 21 as Angelelli’s CTS-V suffered gearbox problems after leading the entire race to that point.
Liddell stayed in front until turn six of the last lap, when he was hit from behind by Papis. The contact forced Liddell’s Porsche into a spin, forcing him off track before hitting the wall. Liddell was uninjured in the incident.
Papis was glad for the win, but did express some remorse for the incident at the post-race press conference. Regardless, Papis felt the race would have been his in the end.
“First of all, I’m extremely proud to be able to bring the Cadillac to the top spot on the podium, it was a great day for our team,” Papis said. “I got behind Robin Liddell and we had three laps of fire. Both of us were pushing like crazy, driving like 200 percent. I feel bad for him for what happened with about two laps to go because he would have totally deserved to finish second.
“I was setting him up to pass him in the corner of turn seven or turn 10. Unfortunately, we had the contact and he spun around. I feel really bad for him because that’s not the way I win races and that’s not the kind of person I am.”
Papis put the hammer down on lap 25 of the 29-lap, 73.66-mile race, turning a 1:27.971 (103.843 mph) and erasing a sizable lead Liddell had built. That lap set up the drama that ensued.
After the race, Liddell’s camp protested the incident with Papis. No final positions were changed, but Papis was fined $5,000 and 10 points in the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship, which dropped him to fifth with 57 points whereas he would have been third behind current point-leader Tommy Archer (88) and Pilgrim (78). Papis was also placed on probation for two races.
Pilgrim expressed his surprise at finishing second, albeit 18.125-seconds behind, and said that the race had his attention from start to finish for a host of reasons.
“It had three chapters in it really, it was a lot of fun,” Pilgrim said. “At the very start, [Lou] Gigliotti stalled in front of me. I got by him by, well, I don’t even know how I missed him.
“Then I found I could stay with these guys for a little bit before I started slipping around. After that, it was fun overtaking slower traffic.”
Early on, Angelelli appeared to be the man to beat for the second day in a row after he smashed his own qualifying record on Saturday. However, the broken gearbox thwarted his attempt to lead from start to finish.
“I never had a problem until I found the gearbox slowly going away and I got stuck in fourth gear,” Angelelli said. “I couldn’t really do anything else but just give up, let the other guys go by and let them make it their race.”
The podium sweep was only the second such for a team in SPEED GT history and the eighth in the 16-year SPEED World Challenge history. The only other SPEED GT team to accomplish the feat was BMW Team PTG in 2003, when they finished first through fourth at Infineon Raceway.
Wolf Henzler, in the No. 55 Applied Materials/Jongbloed Wheels Porsche 911 Cup, won the B&M Oil Coolers “Coolest Move the Race” Award for the second straight race, this one for his pass on Papis for third during lap 19. Henzler’s race ended on lap 25 after sustaining damage while attempting to lap other cars.
SPEED World Challenge rookie Rob Foster advanced 10 positions from start to finish after starting 19th and won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
With his fourth-place finish, Archer maintained his SPEED GT Drivers’ Points Championship lead with his fourth-place finish, increasing his total to 88 points. Pilgrim closed the gap slightly with his second-place showing, moving his total to 78. Liddell (67), Phil McClure (58) and Papis (57) make up the rest of the top five.
On the strength of Archer’s early-season success, Dodge, with 21 points, remains the leader in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. Cadillac sits just behind Dodge with 19 points, followed by Porsche (13) and Chevrolet (7).
SPEED Channel will rebroadcast the sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta SPEED GT race Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 (EDT).
SPEED World Challenge takes a break after running its first three events in the past five weeks and is back in action May 20-22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the SPEED World Challenge Presented by Trenton Forging Quality Formed Solutions.
For complete event recap information from Atlanta or other SPEED World Challenge info, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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