1-2 Finish Clinches SPEED GT Manufacturers Championship; Pilgrim Takes Drivers' Title
October 17, 2005
MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 16, 2005 - Team Cadillac ran the table in the season finale of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT, winning the race, the manufacturers championship and the drivers championship today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Max Papis and Max Angelelli teamed up to finish first and second respectively in their Cadillac CTS-Vs, and Andy Pilgrim wrapped up the drivers title with a fourth-place finish.
Three caution periods interrupted the action-packed race, setting up restarts that proved pivotal in determining the outcome. Passes and contact in the Andretti Hairpin at the end of the front straight shuffled the running order.
"My race was pretty spectacular," said Papis after scoring his second SPEED GT win of the season. "I really enjoyed the restarts. I went side by side with Lou (Gigliotti) and almost went to the front. The pivotal point was the second restart when I had (race leader) Wolf Henzler in front of me. I was sure he was going to go to the outside, so I felt the only way to go was to stay tight on the inside."
That move put Papis in second, and he took over the lead when Gigliotti served a stop-and-go penalty for jumping a restart. Angelelli was dueling with defending champion Tommy Archer for third, and he vaulted to second place on the third restart on lap 18.
"I am happy for Cadillac that we won both championships," said Angelelli. "I knew I had a good car for the race. Starting 10th I never expected to finish second. Luckily I was able to bring the car to the front."
"I was so relieved when I looked back in the mirror and saw Max Angelelli's black car behind me," Papis reported. "Today was very special for me. I won here in 2001 in CART, and I've won again here at the pivotal moment for General Motors and Cadillac."
Pilgrim made steady progress through the field after starting 12th on the grid. On the final restart he advanced from fifth to fourth behind Archer, his chief rival for the drivers' title. With Archer in sight at the checkered flag, the title was Pilgrim's.
"I tried my best not to get into the middle of some of the most amazing side-by-side, fender-banging stuff I've ever seen on a road course," said the newly crowned SPEED GT champion. "I had the best seat in the house for an amazing race."
Pilgrim was the model of consistency in his championship season, scoring top-10 finishes in all 11 rounds of the series.
"You don't get that many chances to win championships, and this one came in a strange way because I didn't win a race this year," said Pilgrim. "I've had some good luck, there's no doubt about it, but I've also made some smart decisions, and here we are as a champion. It's awesome for Cadillac and awesome for the team."
Team Cadillac faced stiff odds coming into the SPEED GT season finale. Cadillac had to finish at least two positions ahead of Porsche to take the title. When the timed race ended after 20 laps, the highest finishing Porsche was fifth, and Cadillac was the champion.
"Words can't describe the feeling of winning two championships in one day for Cadillac," said program manager Dave Spitzer. "I refer to this group as Team Cadillac all the time, and that's because every time we encountered setbacks, the entire team pulled together."
Cadillac's black CTS-Vs swept the championships in the team's sophomore season after tallying four wins, two poles, and 19 top-five finishes.
"Cadillac has always set the standards for luxury and innovation, and today Team Cadillac set the standard for performance in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge," said Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor. "Winning our first manufacturers championship after a season-long battle with some very formidable sports cars spotlighted the world-class credentials of Cadillac CTS-V performance luxury sedan. Our success has built enthusiasm for Cadillac among our dealers, employees and customers, and, importantly, has exposed the Cadillac brand to new customers and positively impacted Cadillac's image.
"The entire Cadillac organization joins me in congratulating Andy Pilgrim on winning the SPEED World Challenge GT championship today," Taylor continued. "Andy is a great ambassador for Cadillac both on and off the track, and we are very proud of his accomplishment."
Today's SPEED GT race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was televised live on the SPEED Channel. The 2006 SCCA SPEED World Challenge will kick off in Sebring, Fla., on March 16-18, 2006.
Track: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 2.238-mile road course
Winner: Max Papis, Cadillac CTS-V
Margin of Victory: 3.300 seconds
Average Speed: 56.348 mph
Pole: Wolf Henzler, Porsche 911 Cup, 1:30.387/89.136 mph
SCCA SPEED GT RESULTS
1. Max Papis, Cadillac CTS-V, 20 laps
2. Max Angelelli, Cadillac CTS-V, 20
3. Tommy Archer, Dodge Viper, 20
4. Andy Pilgrim, Cadillac CTS-V, 20
5. James Sofronas, Porsche 911 Cup, 20
SPEED GT CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 11 of 11 events)
Driver/Car/Points (victories in parentheses)
1. Andy Pilgrim/Cadillac CTS-V, 248
2. Tommy Archer/Viper, 242 (2)
3. Robin Liddell/Porsche 911, 214 (1)
4. Wolf Henzler/Porsche, 210 (1)
5. Max Papis/Cadillac CTS-V, 188 (2)
Manufacturer/Points (victories in parentheses)
1. Cadillac, 63 (4)
2. Porsche, 59 (3)
3. Chevrolet, 40 (2)
4. Dodge, 38 (2)