Cadillacs Qualify Fourth and Fifth for Sebring SPEED GT Season-Opener

15.03.2007: Cadillacs Qualify Fourth and Fifth for Sebring SPEED GT Season-Opener

Pilgrim and Aschenbach Aiming for Win in Florida

Cadillac's quest for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT manufacturers championship is off to a fast start after Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach qualified fourth and fifth respectively for Friday's season-opening round of the 10-race series.

Pilgrim covered the 3.7-mile, 17-turn permanent road course in 2:08.939 (103.304 mph) to take the fourth spot on the starting grid. Aschenbach, the reigning SPEED GT champion, will start fifth with a 2:08.970 (103.279 mph) qualifying time in his first race with Team Cadillac.

The twin Cadillac CTS- V race cars will start behind a trio of Corvettes as Doug Peterson won the pole with a track-record time of 2:07.679. The top-five qualifiers eclipsed the previous track record of 2:08.764 (103.445 mph) set by Leighton Reese in a Chevrolet Corvette one year ago.

"The track was quite slippery, but we had a good run," said Pilgrim. "On my first hot first lap I had a lot of push with new tires, which is expected. I thought I could hammer the throttle coming out of 17, but had to lift a little coming out of the exit onto the front straight.

"Based on our qualifying times, we should be able to run in the top six," Pilgrim predicted. "The Corvettes are very fast, but it's a long race and we have a good setup. We have a good record here at Sebring, but every race is different."

Pilgrim and Aschenbach both turned their quickest time on their second flying laps.

"Qualifying fourth and fifth is a great way to start the season," said Aschenbach. "We know we have a great car for the race, but it's going to be tough to pass the Corvettes because they're very quick on the straights. We'll just bide our time and save our tires for the end of the race.

"I expect a tough race - everyone has to conserve their tires, but you need to push hard to be there at the finish," Aschenbach added. "Andy and I are here to win this race, and hopefully we can do it."

Team Cadillac has a strong record at the historic track. Cadillac posted a 1-2 finish at Sebring in 2004 in the team's competition debut, and Pilgrim has finished as runner-up in three consecutive SPEED GT races at the legendary circuit.

"We've raced here three years, and typically our cars are strong at the end," noted technical director Lynn Bishop. "We'll see what we have for the last five or ten laps and try to win this race."

The season-opening 50-minute SPEED GT race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday, March 16. The race will be televised tape-delayed on Sunday, March 25, at 2:30 p.m. ET on the SPEED Channel.

SCCA SPEED GT Qualifying Summary

1. (87) Doug Peterson, Corvette, 2:07.679/104.324 mph
2. (30) Eric Curran, Corvette, 2:07.744/104.271 mph
3. (28) Lou Gigliotti, Corvette, 2:08.598/103.578 mph
4. (8) Andy Pilgrim, Cadillac CTS- V , 2:08.939/103.304 mph
5. (1) Lawson Aschenbach, Cadillac CTS- V , 2:08.970/103.279 mph

 

- Rick Voegelin, Kevin Smith-

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15.03.2007 / MaP

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