DETROIT - Team Cadillac driver Johnny O'Connell won the running of the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge GT race June 1 on Detroit's Belle Isle. Teammate Andy Pilgrim filled the third position on the podium.
O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) came to the rolling start of the 50-minute race from the pole position. Getting a strong jump he managed to the lead entire 25-lap race fending off his pursuers through three restarts. For O'Connell, the victory was his second on the season and third for Cadillac on Belle Isle.
Teammate Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) started from fourth position and made quick work of the third-place Audi, passing him in Turn Three following the first restart. The Cadillac duo will be looking for a repeat result in the second race of the weekend to go off at 12 p.m. tomorrow.
"The three caution periods help me out," O'Connell said. "I was having some issues with the tires, so the yellows allowed me to cool them down and manage them to the end. We don't have a lot of tuning in the car to change the handling. I was working with my brake bias knob to improve the handling, but a long run under green worked against me. I think my advantage to the Volvo was the ability to dig deep in the opening laps of the race and on the restarts to get a gap. Then they had to worry about everyone behind them."
"Hats off to everyone at Cadillac," he continued. "You want to do well when you race in your own back yard. The front five cars were nose to tail around here. We have some work to do to make the car better for tomorrow. Everyone will be a little faster on Sunday."
Pilgrim races to his eighth podium finish of the season in third.
"The set up on my Cadillac was really good," Pilgrim said. "At the end James [Sofronas] in the Audi was all over me. I think I have some white paint on the back of my car, but it was a good competitive race. I couldn't get close enough to Randy [Pobst] in the Volvo to make a move on him. There was less rubber down on the track from the rain washing it off last night. The track will get faster with the more rubber that gets put down. The job that the Penske organization has done with the track is just great. There are several passing zones, which makes things more exciting for the fans and us drivers."
"It was a great job by Johnny getting his third win in a row here on Belle Isle," he continued. "I am very happy with third. Everyone from Cadillac is here and it was nice to have a strong performance in front of the home crowd."
The Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge on Detroit's Belle Isle will run May 31-June 2. The races will be televised on NBC Sports, Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EST. Live timing and scoring can be streamed from world-challenge.com.