Alex Figge, of Denver, Co., and Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Co., not only won Motul poles in GT and GTS respectively, but set new track records in the process of setting the grid for Race One in the Pirelli World Challenge St. Petersburg Sports Car Challenge Presented by StopTech. This Pirelli World Challenge event runs as part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Figge, driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing/Volvo S60, made a statement by smashing the previous class qualifying record of 1:15.071 (86.318 mph), set in 2011 by Patrick Long. Figgie set the new record at 1:13.967 (87.606mph) around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit. The lap put Figge just less than half a second ahead of his team mate and nearest competitor Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga. The all-Volvo front row may cause problems for the rest of the field on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
“On a street course, it’s nice to have the all-wheel drive for sure," Figge said. “There’s a lot of horsepower talk in this series, and obviously grip makes a big difference, too. Anytime you can out-qualify Randy Pobst, as well, it’s really good. He’s one of the best in the business, so it’s always nice to be able to do that.
“We’re looking forward to the race. I think we’ve got a good car. Historically, we qualify a bit better than we race, but hopefully we can get a good start and use some traffic to our advantage and hopefully things go well."
Pobst, driving the sister No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, was no slouch either. Pobst came out of pit lane quickly, setting an early fast lap. Figge and Pobst then traded the top spot back and forth for two laps until Figge was able to take and hold onto the point. Pobst will take the green flag next to his Volvo team mate on the outside of row one.
Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., made an impressive debut in the Pirelli World Challenge, putting the No. 46 Privacy Star/ENTRUST/Porsche 911 GT3 on the inside of row two with a time of 1:14.737 (86.704 mph).
The No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1/Audi R8, driven by James Sofronas, will roll off the grid on the outside of row two. Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., clocked a time of 1:14.812 (86.617 mph). Sofronas bided his time in the session, setting his fast time on his 10th of 11 laps.
Defending Driver’s Champion Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., put his No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R on the inside of row three with a time of 1:15.237 (86.127 mph).
Lee, driving the No. 20 Best IT/Chevrolet Camaro, blew past the GTS track record of 1:21.936 (79.086 mph) set in 2011 by Eric Foss driving a Ford Mustang FR500S. Lee set the new record at 1:20.778 (80.219 mph), and looks to carry the momentum into Saturday’s race after a runner-up finish in 2012.
“It’s a big first step, and totally unexpected as well," Lee said. “There’s something about St. Petersburg that goes well with our car and our team, and for me, I guess. We were on pole last year, and that was our first pole in World Challenge, so it’s just nice to be back up here. Hopefully we can make it stick this time."
Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., found himself near the top of the GTS standings once again, flirting with earning the class pole, but Lee had his number by 0.127 seconds. Baldwin put in a lap of 1:20.905 (80.094 mph) in his No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Invoice Prep/Porsche Cayman S and will start on the outside of row one.
The No. 16 Porsche Cayman S driving by Kevin Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., will take the green flag right behind Lee on the inside of row two. Gleason posted a time of 1:21.169 (79.833 mph).
Lawson Aschenbach, of Jupiter, Fla., starts his 2013 campaign for the GTS championship starting on the outside of row two, setting a time of 1:21.203 (79.612 mph). The two-time Pirelli World Challenge Champion pilots the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop/Chevrolet Camaro.
Seven-time champion Peter Cunningham will start fifth in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing/Acura TSX. Cunningham’s with a time of 1:21.394 (79.612 mph).
Round One of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships take the green flag in a rolling start at 5:00 pm (EDT). Race Two the green lights turn on for a standing start March 24 at 10:25 am (EDT). The race will be streamed live online at www.world-challgetv.com. More information on the series can be found at www.world-challenge.com or on twitter @WCRacing.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The starting lineup for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTS Round One race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the Streets of St. Petersburg, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, GT, (9), Alex Figge, Denver, Colo., Volvo S60, 1:13.967, 87.606.
2, GT, (6), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 1:14.425, 87.067.
3, GT, (46), Ryan Dalziel, Windemere, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:14.737, 86.704.
4, GT, (14), James Sofronas, Villa Park, Calif., Audi R8 LMS, 1:14.812, 86.617.
5, GT, (3), Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac CTS-V.R, 1:15.237, 86.127.
6, GT, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac CTS-V.R, 1:15.473, 85.858.
7, GT, (2), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:15.635, 85.674.
8, GT, (54), Tim Pappas, Boston, Mass., Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3, 1:16.178, 85.064.
9, GT, (24), Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif., Audi R8, 1:16.230, 85.005.
10, GT, (32), Bret Curtis, Westlake Village, Calif., Audi R8, 1:16.453, 84.758.
11, GT, (08), Alex Welch, Englewood, Colo., Audi R8 LMS, 1:17.270, 83.861.
12, GT, (12), Tim Bell(R), Charlotte, N.C., Nissan GTR, 1:17.985, 83.093.
13, GT, (99), Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee, Wis., Audi R8 LMS, 1:18.098, 82.972.
14, GT, (33), Peter LeSaffre, Boston, Mass., Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3, 1:20.241, 80.756.
15, GT, (4), Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette, no time.
16, GTS, (20), Andy Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:20.778, 80.219.
17, GTS, (73), Jack Baldwin, Marrietta, Ga., Porsche Cayman S, 1:20.905, 80.094.
18, GTS, (16), Kevin Gleason, Johnstown, Pa., Porsche Cayman S, 1:21.169, 79.833.
19, GTS, (10), Lawson Aschenbach, Jupiter, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:21.203, 79.800.
20, GTS, (42), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 1:21.394, 79.612.
21, GTS, (38), Mark Wilkins, Toronto, Ontario, Kia Optima, 1:21.841, 79.178.
22, GTS, (17), Alec Udell, The Woodlands, Texas, Ford Mustang Boss 302R, 1:21.898, 79.122.
23, GTS, (36), Nic Jonsson, Sweden, , Kia Optima, 1:22.229, 78.804.
24, GTS, (34), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., Acura TSX, 1:22.290, 78.745.
25, GTS, (28), Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:22.596, 78.454.
26, GTS, (7), Dane Moxlow, Grosse Isle, Mich., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:23.188, 77.895.
27, GTS, (29), Harry Curtin, Buffalo, N.Y., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:23.199, 77.885.
28, GTS, (61), Jim Taggart(R), Raleigh, N.C., Lotus Exige S, 1:23.781, 77.344.
29, GTS, (11), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:23.800, 77.327.
30, GTS, (98), Ernie Francis_Jr(R), Davie, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:23.859, 77.272.
31, GTS, (51), Ric Bushey, Virginia Beach, Va., Nissan 370 Z, 1:24.166, 76.990.
32, GTS, (97), Mitch Landry(R), Lakes Charles, La., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:24.448, 76.733.
33, GTS, (07), Brian Kleeman, Towson, Md., Nissan 370 Z, 1:25.004, 76.231.
34, GTS, (63), Drew Regitz(R), Denver, Colo., BMW M3 E46, 1:25.232, 76.027.
35, GTS, (21), Ardee Toppe, The Woodlands, Texas, Ford Mustang Boss, 1:25.370, 75.904.
36, GTS, (96), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:26.924, 74.547.
37, GTS, (72), Buz McCall, Boca Raton, Fla., Porsche Cayman S, 1:28.388, 73.313.
38, GTS, (86), Robert Stout, Brownsburg, Ind., Scion FR-S, 1:29.366, 72.510.
39, GTS, (95), Bill Ziegler, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Pontiac Solstice, no time.
40, GTS, (62), Mark Klenin, Lonetree, Colo., BMW 2009 M2 E92, no time.