SCHEIN EARNS FIRST PLATINUM CUP POLE, SMITH STARTS FIRST IN GOLD CUP
BRASELTON, GEORGIA (September 30, 2010) Michael Schein earned his first career Platinum Cup pole position and Kendall Smith took the first step in keeping his Gold Cup championship hopes alive during qualifying for Round 13 of the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama at Road America.
The last legs of Tropical Storm Nicole made for tricky conditions, as the track began to dry during the session after rain drenched the track overnight. It's no surprise that all the fast times were set right at the end, with Schein, driving the #21 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car earning the pole right at the checkered flag ahead of Chris Cumming (#16 World Speed Motorsports/Innovative Fitness). Platinum Cup champion Ross Smith (#5 Maxwell Paper Racing) starts third.
"It was manageable," said Schein of the changing conditions. "As the session wore on, the track got drier and the times kept coming down. As everyone learned the track under these conditions, you could push back braking, start accelerating earlier. It was just a matter of putting together a smooth, clean lap and being the last one out there, so that paid off."
Kendall Smith (#4 Maxwell Paper Racing) knew he had some ground to make up on Henrique Cisneros (#26 NGT Motorsport) in the championship, as Cisneros currently has an eight point lead over Smith after the mandatory two-race drop. To start on the pole ahead of Carlos Eduardo (#24 NGT Motorsport), who is 23 points back, and Cisneros was step one.
"It was crazy, the rain made it fun," said Smith. "I've never really been in the rain and the tires were terrific. The first couple of laps I was just figuring things out, seeing what to do; it was definitely a learning curve. Carlos laid down a flyer early to set the pace I was looking at my times trying to figure out what he did! I picked times off little by little - one time going too much and driving through the gravel trap - and got pole on my last lap. I ran out of fuel coming in, so I guess the guys nailed the strategy!"
An exuberant Eduardo was happy to be back in the championship mix.
"I'm between Kendall and Henrique, so now the championship is fun!" said Eduardo. "The points are so close, the race will be amazing."
Gold Cup championship leader Henrique Cisneros, who had the fast time by a full second early in the session, wasn't able to get a clean lap as the times started coming down.
"When we first went out the track was really wet," said Cisneros, "but it's amazing how much grip the tires had. I was able to put together a really fast lap early on, but there was a lot of traffic later in the session. In the end, Kendall and Carlos were able to put good laps together and were able to jump in front."
The Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head to head in one of the world's most successful race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. As a developmental series designed to prepare drivers and teams for professional careers in sports car racing, the multi-class structure of the series teaches drivers essential skills for an eventual career in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
The series is broken into two classes, with the Platinum Cup Class featuring the more powerful 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car. The Gold Cup Class includes 2005½ - 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
The Speed TV production of Rounds 13 and 14 is scheduled to air on Sunday, October 24 at Midnight. Follow along on the race weekend at www.gt3timing.com and visit www.imsachallenge.com for the latest track schedule, television information and updates.