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Cadillac Sports Car Grand Prix Offers Good Chance for Team Cadillac to Keep the Pressure On
Leaders in Driver, Manufacturer Points Look to Strengthen Hold
MONTEREY, Calif. – Entering the Cadillac Sports Car Grand Prix, Round 5 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series, Team Cadillac’s outlook is pretty rosy.
That can change in a heartbeat inside a series that matches performance vehicles from around the world.
For the moment, Team Cadillac drivers Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim sit first and second in the driver point standings and Cadillac is atop the manufacturer standings. O’Connell has 49 points in hand over Pilgrim, and Long Beach winner Pilgrim has 94 more than third place, which is good…but there’s plenty of racing left to go before the trophies are handed out.
This weekend’s race, set for Friday afternoon on the 2.238-mile course at Laguna Seca Raceway, will play a role in how it turns out.
In qualifying on Thursday, Pilgrim put his No. 8 Cadillac CTS-V second in line with a lap at 1:26.682, just .321 seconds off the pole-winning run by Volvo’s Randy Pobst. O’Connell was eighth with a lap at 1:27.397 in his No. 3 CTS-V.
“All the credit goes to the team,” Pilgrim said. “They have worked really hard on all the things that we needed, and we’re a lot better than when we started here this week. This place is really slippery now. It’s so slippery that it’s monstrously difficult to put a setup underneath it.”
Typically, tracks like Laguna Seca present difficulties for Team Cadillac, as Pilgrim explained.
“Laguna Seca has low grip, and a lot of middle-speed corners, similar to Mid-Ohio,” said Pilgrim, who posted the quickest time in Thursday’s first practice session. “It’s not an ideal track for our Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. If we can come away with top-five this weekend, we’ll be really doing something.”
The combination of grip level and some tight corners mixed with sweeping corners and some truly breathtaking changes in elevation gives the Cadillac drivers some opportunity for compromise in the setup. Getting off the corners fast is critical at Laguna Seca.
O’Connell, who is driving with an additional 196 pounds of REWARDS weight from the sanctioning body, had some struggles during the test session on Wednesday, but found a handle he liked during the two Thursday sessions.
“After the last session, I was pleased with the car,” said the St. Petersburg Round 1 winner. “All the weight is a disadvantage, but we are dealing with it as best we can. In qualifying, I thought I was going to be fast, but I was wrong again.”
Both drivers are very familiar with the Laguna Seca layout, having run here for years in a variety of series, and that experience could play a role in Friday’s main event.
One of the chief contenders to knock off the Team Cadillac duo, Lawson Aschenbach, will have to start from the tail of the GT field on Friday because he missed qualifying on Thursday.
Rounds 4 and 5 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series will be telecast on NBC Sports, Sunday, May 27 at 11 p.m. EDT. View live streaming on the day of the races and continuously on demand after races.
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