The third and fourth rounds of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge kicked off this weekend after the race series made a stop at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Cadillac Racing managed to score two podiums throughout the double header weekend, but couldn’t find a way around R.Ferri Motorsports’ Anthony Lazarro in his No. 61 458 Italia GT3 on either days.
Saturday saw Johnny O’Connell get a strong start from fourth on the grid and immediately power past the two K-Pax Racing McLaren 12Cs, putting him in third position as the pack dived into turn one. Teammate Andy Pilgrim also had a strong start, but fell into eighth place when a caution flag was put out on the first lap. Just before the second caution flag on Lap 18, Pilgrim managed to move his way up into sixth place.
“The team is really the most responsible for the result today,” O’Connell said post-race. “Cadillac Racing puts a lot of effort into the standing starts. I had one yesterday in practice, when I hit the gas the car really hooked up. I think I got an even better one in the race. The McLarens in front of me didn’t get going so I had a huge gap around the outside and I got to Turn One and things were looking great as I slotted into third. We opened up a little gap and then our tires started to go off and the Audis started coming. They were chewing on me pretty good. I had to use a lifetime of experience to get through traffic and control things. We got lucky. If there wasn’t that full course caution late to cool my tires I would have been done. That allowed me to cool things down and go after Mancuso. It was a fun race for me. When a Cadillac can finish between two Ferraris that is a good day.”
O’Connell finished the day on Saturday in second place, sandwiched between the two R.Ferri Motorsports Ferraris. Pilgrim finished fifth behind GMG Racing’s James Sofronas in his No. 14 Audi R8 Ultra.
On Sunday, O’Connell and Pilgrim dealt with more challenging starting spots on the grid after qualifying sixth and tenth, respectively. When the green light went, O’Connell thundered past other competitors and followed the two leaders, Anthony Lazarro and Andrew Palmer into turn one. However the caution flag came out almost immediately when four Mustangs got tangled up in the starting frenzy and went off the track.
After the restart on Lap 7, Lazzaro, Palmer and O’Connell held position for the next 22 laps of the 30-lap race. O’Connell couldn’t find a way around the two leaders and found himself pressured by Nick Mancuso for third in the No. 16 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458. O’Connell held him off and finished third behind race winner Palmer and runner up Lazarro. Pilgrim managed a seventh place finish.
Round 5 and 6 of the Pirelli World Challenge for GT and GT-A classes will take place in Detroit at the Belle Isle Grand Prix on the weekend of May 30. All races in the series can be viewed on the Pirelli World Challenge website.