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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim had a tough outing in their Cadillac ATS-V.R’s in this afternoon’s running of the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix. After a caution filled race, O’Connell was classified in 22nd and Pilgrim in 23rd.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) was able to get a good start from his second row grid position. By the first turn he had his No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R in second position. The first of five full course caution flags flew on lap one. On the restart on lap eight, Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) was taken out in the final Hair Pin Turn and had to pit for repairs putting him down two laps to the GT field. Following two more caution periods, O’Connell was able to get by the leading Ferrari of Olivier Beretta on lap 15 with a great move into Turn Seven. As he led into the next turn, Beretta and McLaren driver Kevin Estre pulled to the inside of O’Connell making it three wide and forcing the Cadillac into the wall at the exit of Turn Eight. O’Connell had to pit for repairs putting him down two laps.
“Really disappointing,” O’Connell said. “I stuck Beretta with a great move into Turn Seven. I was headed into eight leading the race. There is no way any sane person in the world should have tried to put a move on me there, but they did. It was too early in the race for that type of driving. We should have been able to win or least get on the podium. I am proud of the team. We were running this new car at the front. You are never happy to get taken out of a race like that, especially leading.”
Pilgrim was passed under yellow putting him in a vulnerable positon in the middle of the field.
“I had a good start and then we immediately went to yellow,” Pilgrim said. “I was good in seventh. As we drove around under the yellow I was a little slow coming out of the final turn and then three cars passed me, under caution! Next thing I know I am in tenth, a very vulnerable position. On the next restart I got turned in the Hair Pin and into the wall. I shouldn’t have been in that position. We appealed to the officials, but they didn’t put the field back in order. I don’t understand it. Tough day on Ocean Boulevard.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will travel to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama next weekend, Apr. 24-26, for a double race weekend.
Today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach race will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network Sunday, April 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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