Last year Phil McClure won the first 2003 SPEED GT race with a convincing victory at Sebring. Even after a nasty crash midway through the season, Phil still finished Third in the championship. What a difference a year can make. New to the series were two immaculately prepared Pratt & Miller Z06-powered Cadillac CTS-V sedans. It was apparent during qualifying that these were the cars to beat. Max Angelelli ran a blistering lap of 2:09.077 to capture the pole position. This was 3 seconds quicker than the pole time set by McClure last year! Lou Gigliotti, driving the LG Pro Long Tube Header Z06, was Second fastest with a 2:10.188. Phil McClure was Fifth fastest with a 2:11.050. The spread between First and Fifth was very small. At least Corvette was Second fastest, but was it? Gigliotti was informed that he was being moved to the back of the grid because of a tire change. On Lou's cool-down lap, a back marker pulled in front of him causing him to flat-spot all four tires. The rules state that you must start the race on your qualifying tires.
Race day saw high drama as Third-fastest qualifier, Andy Pilgrim, stalled his Cadillac on the grid because of a faulty clutch. Fortunately, nobody hit him, and he was able to start in last position. Andy drove like someone with fire in their belly. He streaked through the field and passed cars left and right until he was tucked behind his teammate Angelelli. Gigliotti was also slicing through the field until a spin stopped his progress. McClure was fighting for Third until fuel pickup problems put him out of contention for a podium finish. The top five were: Cadillac First and Second, Audi, Viper, and Phil McClure's Corvette. Leighton Reese brought his Banner-Racing Z06 home Seventh. Gigliotti managed to finish in Thirteenth position after his spin. Cadillac will automatically have 75 pounds added to the winning car and 50 pounds to the Second-place finisher. If the first race is any indication, it could be a bad year for Corvette. Stay tuned.