Westbrook, Balzan Earn Rolex Series Poles
Richard Westbrook, whose first of two victories of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season came from the No. 1 starting position, won the pole for Sunday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda.
Westbrook, driving the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP with Antonio Garcia, upstaged both pre-pole favorites with a lap of 1:21.042 (99.415 mph) around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 11-turn, 2.238 mile track.|
Westbrook had been fifth fastest in the previous day’s practice, dominated by defending race winner Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty and Rolex Series championship leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
Gurney’s No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP stable mate Jon Fogarty settled for the second spot on the grid with a fast lap of 1:21.213 (99.206 mph). Rojas managed a fifth-place qualifying effort in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley.
“I didn’t think we had the pace to match the (No.) 99 so I was a bit surprised, but the car was perfect,” said Westbrook, whose victories came at Barber Motorsports Park in March and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June.
Alessandro Balzan won the GT pole in his first GRAND-AM appearance driving the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 to a fast lap of 1:27.594 (91.979 mph). His driving partner Olivier Beretta had been fastest in Friday practice.
“I’m very proud to race here in the U.S. This track is very famous in Italy and it’s always been my dream to be here,” said the 31-year-old Italian. “I really have to thank my team for the opportunity. It’s been a great start and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Eric Foss qualified the No. 73 Neo Synthetics/Carbotech Performance Porsche GT3 second fastest.
The GT-leading No. 69 FXDD/Motorola Ferrari, which suffered suspension failure in Saturday morning practice, qualified seventh with Emil Assentato at the wheel of the car he shares with Jeff Segal.
Times for two GT cars were disallowed following post-qualifying inspection. The No. 03 Tequila Patron Ferrari 358 driven by Mike Hedlund was too low. The rear wing of the No. 57 Stevenson Autosport Camaro GT.R of John Edwards was too high. Each will start at the rear of the 27-car grid.
The Continental Tire Sports Car Festival will be televised live on SPEED at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday and will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio.