GM High-Tech Performance Blogs
An all Cadillac weekend – Pirelli World Challenge GT championship claimed at pole of Cadillac-sponsored event in Sonoma, CA followed by Pilgrim's triumphant victory
Before the race had even started, Team Cadillac had already won. Johnny O'Connell took the pole, with teammate Andy Pilgrim just behind him, at the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma, which gave them enough points to win the manufacturers championship in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class.
Meanwhile the driver's championship was still very much up for grabs when the green flag dropped, which was unfortunate for Johnny O'Connell who stalled at the starting line and then made contact with two GTS cars in Turn 5, while trying to claw his way back into the pack. The crash ended the weekend for O'Connell's CTS-V.R, and cost him the points lead in the series (as James Sofronas' third place finish in the Audi R8 was enough to take over the lead). O'Connell has several wins and other podium finishes on the year, but will need to shake off his bad luck in the last two races in order to capture the series championship.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for Team Cadillac, however, as teammate Andy Pilgrim seized the opportunity by charging into the lead and never looking back – finishing with a 6.7-second lead, averaging 88.8mph. Off the start he drew some significant heat from veteran Volvo driver Randy Pobst, but contact in Turn 2 spun out Pobst who later charged back into fourth place. Fellow Volvo driver Alex Figge looked to challenge in the first seven laps before his day ended because of an electrical issue. With the win, Pilgrim remained in third overal (1284 points) but gained some ground on O'Connell (1339).
Also of note for GM racing fans, the Camaro took second and third in the GTS class. Andy Lee, out of the Bondurant camp, and Lawson Aschenbach, Blackdog Speed Shop, have both put in a great effort so far this year. Though Lee had the better performance on the day, finishing just 2.48-seconds behind the leader (Brandon Davis' Aston Martin), Aschenbach managed to slip into second place overall with his podium finish and in strong contention for the championship. Lee is fourth overall, and will need a strong finish to the year with a little bit of luck to move up into third.