It was a day of mixed emotions for Team Cadillac with Andy Pilgrim’s win in the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma, but teammate Johnny O’Connell had a different day.
Pilgrim was able to get a good start from his spot on the front row of the grid. He passed his pole-sitting teammate O’Connell, who had a bad start when he had trouble selecting first gear, the issue had him stopped in the middle of the track while the GT and GTS field filed past.
“It was a scary moment,” O’Connell said. “When the lights go out and you can’t get select first gear, you are working to get it going knowing that 30 cars are coming up on you. I was able to get it into gear and get going. The first four corners were chaos. I made a move on the inside of one of the GTS cars and there was another one on the outside of him and there was nothing I could do at that point.
O’Connell was able to get the car going, but five turns later he was involved in a crash that resulted in heavy rear damage. The team were able to get the car going for one more lap and gained three points toward the championship. “We will now have to go to Houston on a mission,” O’Connell admitted after falling 15 points behind James Sofronas (Audi) who leads with 1,350 and Andy Pilgrim is third with 1,279.
Andy Pilgrim was side by side with the Volvo of Randy Pobst into Turn Two, but was able to hold his nerve and the lead. On lap seven the first and only caution of the race Pilgrim was able to control the restart and lead every lap of the race for his first victory of the season.
“At the brake zone I thought we were going to go through the turn together and then he came down a little and we touched and he went around. It was a racing deal, I tried to miss him. I thought he would have given me a little more room,” Pilgrim related. “Then on the restart Mike Skeen [No. 2 Corvette] was right on I and I knew the Audi guys were right there as well. After our troubles in practice the Team Cadillac guys did a great job to put a good car under me for the race. We had a great day, it was good win.”