LEXINGTON, Ohio – Team Cadillac came to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with one mission on its mind: win the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Series GT Manufacturer’s Championship.
It isn’t all the way done, but it is a lot closer to happening than it was.
Jordan Taylor led a 2-3-4 Team Cadillac finish in Saturday’s Cadillac Mid-Ohio Grand Prix, bringing Team Cadillac to the cusp of its first Manufacturer’s crown since 2007.
“We had an objective today, which was to secure our points for the championship,” said third-place finisher Johnny O’Connell. “It was a good day for us. We did what Cadillac needed done, which was to race aggressively, put on a show, look after the equipment and win this Manufacturer’s Championship.”
Unofficially, Team Cadillac holds a 12-point lead over Porsche, 72-60, with two rounds remaining in the series. Volvo is a distant third with 49 points.
“It was a team game today, in the sense of just letting your teammates do whatever,” said fourth-place finisher Andy Pilgrim. “Johnny has the [driver] championship deal, and we were all in the position we needed to be; it didn’t matter what order we finished in.”
Taylor, who joined the team for the Mid-Ohio weekend, earned a runner-up finish to Volvo’s Randy Pobst in his first career World Challenge Series event. The 21-year-old driver is the son of sports car team owner Wayne Taylor.
Taylor moved past Pilgrim into third place on the start, as Pilgrim was balked a bit by one of the Volvos, and led the Cadillac parade the rest of the way.
“We had a good start, jumping past Andy into third place, and that set the tone for the race,” Taylor said. “I knew that once we were in our three-Cadillac row, we were going to be pretty safe there, but once we got to the traffic, I just couldn’t believe how hectic it was.
“It just went crazy every five laps when we would get these sections of cars.
Once we were in clean air, the car was solid and the Cadillac guys gave me a great car to run up front. I’m glad we could help in the manufacturer’s championship and I look forward to tomorrow.”
Taylor pushed right up to the back of race-long leader Randy Pobst in the closing stages, but traffic cost him time at key points on the track.
“Yeah, in traffic we were a little better and we were better in the slower corners, but once we got to the straights, it was tough to keep up,” Taylor said. “We’ll make an adjustment for tomorrow and it will be better.”
Pilgrim got blocked again in traffic and that allowed O’Connell to sneak past on the back half of the course, and they stayed that way the remainder of the 30-lap event. There was no overly aggressive racing among the teammates.
“I wasn’t racing Johnny or Jordan,” Pilgrim said. “We came here to get the manufacturer’s championship.”
Pobst and teammate Alex Figge qualified on the front row, and took off during the rare rolling start in Round 10. Team Cadillac settled into line behind them, with Taylor, Pilgrim and O’Connell nose-to-tail.
It stayed that way until Pilgrim was blocked by lapped traffic and O’Connell sneaked past, but the prime objective was to finish ahead of Porsche.
The prime objective was met. Top Porsche in the finishing order was Lawson Aschenbach in sixth. James Sofronas, longtime Porsche campaigner, was driving an Audi R8, and he passed Aschenbach for the spot late in the race to move Porsche back to fourth in the finishing order among manufacturers.
In the driver standings, O’Connell added to his lead over Pilgrim, 1,181-1,000, with two rounds remaining, and Pilgrim widened the gap over Aschenbach in third to 51 points.
The second race of the weekend’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio will begin at 9:55 a.m. Sunday and will be streamed live online.