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Watkins Glen: Series GT practice one report

Curran Paces Thursday SPEED GT Practice at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 2, 2009) -- In preparation for Saturday's Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports, Eric Curran, of Easthampton, Mass., led the first of two ...

Curran Paces Thursday SPEED GT Practice at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 2, 2009) -- In preparation for Saturday's Toyo Tires Watkins Glen Grand Prix Presented by Lala Motorsports, Eric Curran, of Easthampton, Mass., led the first of two practice sessions for Round Five of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championship. Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., completed to top three at Watkins Glen International.

For the first time since going to the GT/Touring Car class format, the series opted to combine classes for practice, putting all cars on course for a one hour and 15-minute session. As it had been raining on and off all afternoon, the course was damp to start the session and few cars opted to hit the 11-turn, 3.4-mile track when the green flag waved, Curran being one of them. It wasn't until much later in the session, that Curran finally piloted his No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette onto the course.

"With the combing of Touring Car and GT, which I think is a wonderful thing, we had a nice long session, but it was wet at the beginning of the session and it looks like we'll have a dry race on Saturday, so there was no point in running around in the wet weather," Curran said. "We waited it out. It looked like it was drying out as we watched the lap times of the other cars. We basically turned it into a 30-minute session that was dry the whole session."

Curran quickly shot to the top of the timing screen, but was soon ousted by Pilgrim. Curran shot back with what would be the fastest lap of the session, a 1:57.811 (103.895 mph).

"This track has always been pretty good for the Corvette," Curran added. "We struggled some here last year, but this is a track that's not too far away from the team in Connecticut and we've tested here a lot. The Corvette's always worked well on a high-speed aero track like Mosport or this. We'll see, it's too early in the weekend to really see what anybody else is doing, but so far so good with this Whelen Engineering Corvette."

Despite only use a portion of the lengthy session, Curran was a fan of the combined practice format.

"I think it's great," Curran said. "I think it gives all of us, as a group, time to come in and out and make more changes. When you're running a 20-minute practice, you have very little time to make changes, whereas, with an hour and 15 minute session you can come in and out a half dozen times if you want to. Realistically, there's never a time when all of the Touring Cars and all of the GT cars are on the track at the same time, so the traffic isn't that bad. On a 3.4-mile track like this, it's a wonderful decision by the SCCA."

After getting bumped from the top spot by Curran, Pilgrim in the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, settled into second. The current holder of the World Challenge GT qualifying lap record at Watkins Glen turned a 1:58.213 (103.542 mph).

Current World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship point leader Davis was third fastest. Driving the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra, Davis entered a 1:58.218 (103.537 mph), just 0.005-second out of second.

Though he sat atop the times at several points during the session, Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, ended the session in fourth. Rivera clocked a 1:58.487 (103.302 mph) in the No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3.

Jason Daskalos, of Albuquerque, N.M., completed the top five. The most recent World Challenge GT race winner turned a 1:58.527 (103.267 mph) in the No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper.

Dino Crescentini (Porsche) was sixth, followed by defending race winner Randy Pobst (Volvo), whose session was ended early with transmission problems.

Gunter Schaldach (Viper), William Ziegler (Porsche) and Sonny Whelen (Corvette) completed the top 10.

Celebrating the birth of his first child, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., driver of the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3, was unable to make it to Watkins Glen in time for practice.

The second practice session of the weekend, another combined session, will take place at 9:05 a.m. (EDT) on Friday. World Challenge GT qualifying will take place that afternoon at 1 p.m. The World Challenge GT portion of the Toyo Tires Grand Prix of Watkins Glen Presented by Lala Motorsports will go green at 4:45 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, July 4. Live timing, lap notes and streaming audio are available at www.world-challenge.com.

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , James Sofronas , William Ziegler , Dino Crescentini , Brandon Davis , Sonny Whelen , Jason Daskalos , Gunter Schaldach
Teams Global Motorsports Group