Cadillac Racing’s Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell climbed back behind the wheel of the Cadillac CTS.V.R this weekend for the first round of Pirelli World Challenge action at the Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Pilgrim scored his first podium of 2014 in the season opener after leading much of the race, only to be passed by sports car veteran Tomas Enge late in the day, forcing the British-born racing driver to settle for the second spot on the podium.
“We didn’t get a great start like we thought we would,” Pilgrim said. “The Cadillac CTS.V.R was great right off of the bat. Enge did not get a good start. He had to come from way back. The yellow really helped him and hurt us. Without the yellow I am not sure he could have caught me. Enge came back to us. It was a good first race; I am disappointed not to get the win, but happy to be on the podium. It was unexpected.”
The World Challenge field is a mix of 49 GT and slightly slower GTS cars, which led to a scrambled start on the tight and narrow St. Petersburg track Sunday morning. Some cars lurched forward hard, while others were braking and weaving trying to avoid a collision. O’Connell got caught up in the free-for-all and was hit several times diving into Turn One, forcing him to pit the No.3 CTS.V.R early on in the race. O’Connel re-entered the grid five laps down and finished in tenth position.
Pilgrim meanwhile had a strong start, passing the Ferrari of Anthony Lazzaro on lap two for first position. He led the race until he was passed by Enge in the extremely fast Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2. The Lamborghini is just one of the many FIA GT3-spec cars Cadillac Racing will have to fend off this year, which are claimed to have superior downforce and handling to the cars homologated solely for World Challenge competition, such as the CTS.V.R.
Cadillac Racing will travel to Long Beach for the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach beginning on April 11. If you missed the showdown in St. Petersburg this past weekend, you can catch a reply of the action on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, April 12 at 12:30 a.m. The race, along with every other in the World Challenge season, is also available for viewing online here.