Metro Tampa, FL residents will find racing action in their backyard on March 28-30 thanks to the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which is the season opener of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship.
In a new twist, both the Pirelli World Challenge GT and FIA GT3 specification cars will battle it out together on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile track, which goes through downtown St. Pete and the runway at Albert Whitted Airport. Within the World Challenge GTs, there are two classes: GT for professionals and GT-A for amateurs. Twenty-one of the 25 GT entries are FIA-spec cars, while the four World Challenge entries include two Cadillac CTS.V.Rs.
Team Cadillac driver and reigning World Challenge GT driver champion Johnny O’Connell will be attempting to win a third GT championship. “Normally at the start of the season you don’t think about points too much, but I think that with the competition we will face this year, every point available will be important. The added horsepower should help with traffic a lot. A driver won’t be as likely to force a low percentage pass on corner entry and be more likely to wait until a straight to make a pass.”
Adds teammate Andy Pilgrim, “”World Challenge is all about getting right down to business. We have about a 13-hour race season. You don’t need to win the first 50-minute race to be in contention, but you can sure hurt yourself if you don’t finish, so we need to push hard, think about points and go for the win if we get half a chance.” He continues, “You don’t have hours to make up for mistakes and no pit stops either. It is funny to say, but every driver needs to all work together, especially on a street circuit with so much traffic. It’s going to be hard for some guys to race patient, but then again that’s not new. The fans don’t come to watch us run around behind the pace car. I think we owe it to them to race hard, but smart, so they get a great show. We had four of our last five races run all green, I think that’s something to be proud of and to build on.”
The Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 6th at 5:30 p.m.