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Mid-Ohio: Series GT practice one report

Sofronas Tops Morning SPEED GT Practice at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 7, 2009) -- As Round Seven of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships commenced at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., ...

Sofronas Tops Morning SPEED GT Practice at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 7, 2009) -- As Round Seven of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships commenced at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., turned the quickest lap in morning practice. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., were second and third fastest, respectively, in preparation for Sunday's Toyo Tires Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Presented by Dish Network, part of the Acura Sports Car Challenge / Honda Indy 200 weekend.

Though many drivers described the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course as "slippery" for the early morning practice session, Sofronas was unphased and quickest out of the box in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Though fast laps by Crescentini and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., briefly dropped him to third in the order, Sofronas didn't wait around long before returning to the top and ending the 45-minute combined-class practice session with a 1:27.715 (92.672 mph).

"Compared to yesterday, the track got a little bit better," Sofronas said. "There was a little more rubber laid down by the ALMS cars. The conditions weren't too bad, but the jury is still out on what it's going to be like for qualifying at six o'clock tonight and our race on Sunday morning. That's what we're trying to figure out right now."

Sofronas has often been a victim of tough luck at Mid-Ohio in his seven World Challenge starts here, but is looking forward to tackling the track this weekend in a car that's already earned him three top-five finishes.

"This wasn't always my favorite track, but I've started to get the groove and get the rhythm down," admitted Sofronas. "I've had some bad luck here, either getting punted while I was running second place in Touring Car or running fifth in the [Porsche] 996 and breaking a throttle cable. It's just never been my track, but the car is so good right now that I love racing it anywhere. Mid-Ohio is starting to move up my favorites list a little bit at a time.

"You've got this long straightaway, so you need to set up the car to get a good launch out of the Keyhole. If you don't get the power down there, which the Porsche does very well, you'll get killed. The car is really good in the transitions and in the tight stuff in the back. It's about finding a balance. We'll need to get around the bigger cars, otherwise we'll never be able to pass them. There are very few passing zones here at Mid-Ohio."

Driving the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Micro Systems Ford Mustang Cobra, Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was second fastest in the session. The current point leader entered a 1:28.023 (93.348 mph).

Sofronas' GMG teammate Crescentini was third in the No. 4 Stoptech/GMG/Porsche 911 GT3. Crescentini entered a 1:28.156 (92.209 mph).

Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, put a third Porsche in the top five, turning a 1:28.296 (92.063 mph) in the No. 97 Tax Masters/Brass Monkey Racing Porsche 911 GT3.

A podium finisher in the 2008 World Challenge GT race at Mid-Ohio, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., completed the top five in practice. Driving the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, Pilgrim's fastest lap was a 1:28.318 (92.040 mph).

Tony Gaples was sixth fastest in his Chevrolet Corvette. He was followed by Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette), Mike Borkowski (Dodge Viper), Ritch Marziale (Dodge Viper) and Jeff Courtney (Dodge Viper).

The World Challenge GT cars only have a moment to rest before the next practice session at Noon (EDT) today. Qualifying takes place later this evening at 6 p.m. After taking Saturday off, World Challenge GT returns to action on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., for the Toyo Tires Mid-Ohio Grand Prix Presented by Dish Network. Live timing, streaming audio and lap notes are available throughout the weekend at www.world-challenge.com. The series can also be followed via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SPEEDWC.

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Tony Rivera , Mike Borkowski , James Sofronas , Tony Gaples , Dino Crescentini , Brandon Davis , Sonny Whelen , Jeff Courtney