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DETROIT, (April 8, 2014) – Team Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell are ready to return to the streets of Long Beach for the Pirelli World Challenge Series Long Beach Grand Prix presented by KIA. Pilgrim comes into the weekend second in points, O’Connell is looking for some Long Beach redemption.
Coming off of a strong weekend at St. Petersburg two weeks ago, Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) is second in points in the Pirelli World Challenge Series GT point standings. Two time defending GT Class champion O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) is looking for a good finish and some Long Beach pay back. After a disappointing start to the season, the Georgian was leading last year’s Long Beach race in the final laps, but was thwarted by a piece of brake rotor from a competitors car that shot through the radiator and stopped him out on the circuit just five corners from the checkered flag. Teammate Pilgrim went on to finish second in the race.
“I enjoy street races and Long Beach is one of my favorites,” Pilgrim said. “I think this track really suits the Cadillac and it’s a blast to drive. Like any track where we have two classes running, patience is key to finishing strong. We really don’t set-up the CTS.V.R much different in Long Beach than St Pete and we were strong at St Pete, so I’m hoping we’re right on the pace again this weekend.”
“I think St. Pete was a set-up run for many of the new cars and drivers,” he continued. “We were ready and Team Cadillac had the CTS.V.Rs set-up. We know the FIA cars are stronger than us, Tomas Enge proved that, so it’s just a question of time until all the new drivers and engineers get their cars sorted.”
“Qualifying is much more important than last year considering the increased number of cars, so look for some serious action with guys putting down some wall scraping runs,” Pilgrim explained. “If you don’t use every inch of track than you’re leaving time out there; I know we’ve got more side mirrors on the truck!”
Long Beach owes O’Connell and needs a strong race to get back into the points chase after a disappointing tenth place finish at St. Pete.
“It’s been a couple years since I’ve won at Long Beach and after coming so close last year I really want to get another win this weekend,” O’Connell said. “I’m not certain that we’re going to be drastically different from St. Pete. Long Beach is a circuit that should suit our car reasonably well versus the GT3 cars. I see Andy, and myself, up at the front and I would expect that the Audis, as well as the McLarens, could be quite difficult.”
“Qualifying is always going to be important, but especially this year,” he continued. “Any positions gained in qualifying just makes your job that much easier in the race with the large GT field as well as being the first to get through the GTS traffic.”
The Pirelli World Challenge Series Grand of Long Beach presented by KIA will be a single race weekend and take the standing start on Sunday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m. PT. Qualifying will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
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