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For Release March 25, 2012, 3 p.m. EDT
O’Connell Second, Pilgrim Third in Round 2 for Team Cadillac in World Challenge St. Petersburg Grand Prix
Cadillac CTS-V Coupes Log four top-four finishes in two-race weekend
• O’Connell, Pilgrim First and Third in Driver Standings
• One Point Separates Manufacturers
• Team Gains Ton of Momentum Heading to Long Beach
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Team Cadillac capped a tremendous opening weekend in St. Petersburg with a double-podium finish on Sunday, as Johnny O’Connell finished second and Andy Pilgrim third in Round 2 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series.
That means the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe drivers are first and third in the points heading to Round 3 next month at Long Beach, and Cadillac is a point off the lead in the Manufacturers’ points as well.
Lawson Aschenbach led all 29 laps to post the victory, and O’Connell and Pilgrim were in hot pursuit most of those laps. In the end, Aschenbach crossed the finish line 4.591 seconds ahead of the Team Cadillac duo.
The weekend could not have gone better for Cadillac, said Pilgrim.
“I was hoping we would both get top-fives this weekend and get out of here,” said Pilgrim. “You never know with this place. There’s a lot of damaged equipment for a street race. I’m very happy with third today, Johnny got a great win yesterday and for me, it’s always a team deal, but I’m glad to be on the podium.”
“We’re out of here with two top-fours and I’m happy.”
Technical Director Steve Cole said much the same.
“This was just about perfect for us this weekend,” he quipped. “We got a victory and four top-four finishes. That puts us in great shape heading to Long Beach.”
At the start, Pilgrim’s shifter stuck in first gear and wouldn’t release, and it cost him three spots. O’Connell sneaked past for fourth behind Aschenbach and the Volvos of Alex Figge and Randy Pobst.
Full-course cautions slowed the first part of the race, and there was little change in the running order until Figge and O’Connell made contact on a restart. Fighting for position into Turn 1, Figge’s car sustained suspension damage that ended his day.
A few laps later, Pobst had a mechanical issue and slowed, finally pulling off and out of the race.
“I got past Figge on a restart, and there was inch from my mirror to the wall and an inch over to him,” O’Connell said. “Somebody got into the back of me, and I had Randy Pobst outside of me. The smart thing was to let him have the position, and hopefully he’d come back to me. Sure enough, a few laps later, he had an issue.”
That set up the run to the finish, and while both Cadillacs were fast, they were unable to reel in the speedy leader.
“It was tough,” O’Connell admitted. “I was pushing so hard, and I was hoping that Lawson would get caught in traffic or make a mistake, but he didn’t. I couldn’t get close enough, but it’s still a great weekend for Cadillac. I couldn’t get a good run at him, and I didn’t allow myself to get into position to get one. On the last restart, I got tagged a little bit from behind and that messed me up a little bit in trying to set him up for Turn 3.”
Pilgrim didn’t let O’Connell forget he was back there, either.
“It seemed like I was quicker than everyone through certain parts of the course, but I gave up some time in others,” Pilgrim said.
O’Connell was aware of his teammate’s presence.
“I just put my head down and pushed as hard as I could. Andy was faster than me at some places, but I was better than him in others. He faded back there a little bit, and I was thinking he was saving his tires for a late run.”
In all, however, Team Cadillac posted a first, a second, a third and a fourth in two races.
After the first two rounds, O’Connell leads the driver points, 265-239, over Aschenbach, with Pilgrim third at 204. In the Manufacturers’ standings, Porsche leads with 17 and Cadillac is a point behind with 16.
The first two rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge season will be broadcast on NBC Sports, Sunday, April 8 at 4:30-6 p.m. EDT. The races will also be broadcast on www.world-challengeTV.com after initial broadcast.
The next race for Team Cadillac is April 13-15 in the annual Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and advanced technology. More information on Cadillac can be found at media.cadillac.com.
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