Lexington, OH - Alex Figge, of Denver, CO, and Nic Jonsson, of Jonkoping, Sweden, will start on pole for their respective classes for the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTS Round 11, part of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by StopTech Brakes. With their fastest laps, both Figge and Jonsson set new series qualifying track records for the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Of note, the top four qualifiers in GT and the top seven qualifiers in GTS posted laps quicker than the previous qualifying lap records for their respective classes.
Figge, driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 will start on pole in GT after posting a 1:21.840. The time bested the previous track record of 1:22.693 set last year by Figge's teammate Randy Pobst. It's Figge's second pole of the season, after starting the season strong in Round 1 at St. Petersburg with a pole and a win. Since St. Petersburg, Figge has had a string of bad luck and he welcomes the return to a track that he's had success at having won here in 2011.
"We've had some weird stuff go on. It's just unforeseeable stuff that never has happened," said Figge. "No amount of maintenance that can eliminate that. It hasn't been a pace issue. We've led a lot of laps. It's just the matter of getting lucky and putting it all together."
"I came here (Mid-Ohio) very motivated. No question we've had a tough season. It can go one of two ways. Either we're discouraged or motivated, and me and the No. 9 car guys are motivated. It shows in the car. We've switched engineers on the car and we're starting to click."
Pobst, of Gainesville, GA, in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 will start second after posting a time of 1:22.224. Jordan Taylor, of Apopka, FL, in the No. 5 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R will start third after a fast lap of 1:22.445.
Rounding out the top 5 are James Sofronas, of Villa Park, CA, in the No. 14 GMG/Swisher Racing/Mobil 1 Audi R8 LMS with a fast lap of 1:22.543 and GT Drivers' points leader Johnny O'Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R with a fast lap of 1:22.697. The top five qualifiers in GT are separated by less than a second.
In GTS, Jonsson, in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima Turbo, had the fastest lap with a 1:28.191, eclipsing the previous qualifying lap record of 1:29.663. It's Jonsson's first pole of the season.
"We have had our fair share of bad luck this year," said Jonsson. "We've been pretty quick, but for whatever reason we couldn't practice or qualify. We've started from the back six of 10 races. The Kia Optimas are great and the crew has done phenomenal. Mark lines up next to me, so our mission is to help support him pushing for the GTS Drivers' championship."
Starting second is Jonsson's teammate Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, ON in the No 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Kia Optima Turbo after posting a 1:28.280. Lawson Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro qualified third with a 1:28.899.
Rounding out the top 5 are Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, WI, in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX who had a fast time of 1:28.973 and Andy Lee, in the No. 20 Best IT/Bondurant/Crown Seven Chevrolet Camaro with a best time of 1:29.194. Of note, GTS Drivers' points leader Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, GA, in the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman S will start sixth on the grid.
Round 11 of the GT and GTS seasons begins at 11:10 a.m. ET
Cooper and Francis Jr. take TC/TCB Poles at Mid-Ohio
Michael Cooper scored the TC pole at Mid-Ohio (Weber/PWC)Lexington, OH - Michael Cooper, of Syosset, NY and Ernie Francis Jr, of Davie, FL, will start on pole for their respective classes for the Pirelli World Challenge TC/TCB Round 9, part of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by StopTech Brakes. Cooper bested his own qualifying lap record he set last year at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Francis Jr.'s lap is now the lap record given the TCB class has never raced at the course.
Cooper, in the No. 1 AMG/WilliamsAutospt/KingElect Mazda3 will start from pole on Saturday after posting a 1:33.933, almost a full second faster than the lap record he set at Mid-Ohio in 2012 (1:34.860). It's Cooper's third straight pole and fourth of the season.
The defending TC Drivers' Champion is doing double duty this weekend also piloting the No. 12 CRP Hawk Performance Nissan GT-R, a car that is still in development and that he has had little seat time in.
"I've had a good day. I got in the CRP Hawk Nissan and qualified ninth in GT," said Cooper. "I'm close to the rest of the field for a car that is still in development. Then I got in the Mazda, and put the fastest lap down. I wasn't sure if it would be enough, so I wanted to try another hot lap. As I was setting up for last corner, there was another car there, and I hit them."
Despite the incident, Cooper is primed to extend his winning streak to three in a row after sweeping the Toronto doubleheader last race.
Brett Sandberg, of Allendale, NJ, qualified second in the No. 70 C360R/GearTie.com/HPD Honda Civic Si (1:34.268) with Tristan Herbert, of Reston, VA, third in No. 33 Revo/GermanAutoParts/Brimtek Volkswagen Jetta GLI (1:34.536).
Sandberg's two Compass360 Racing teammates, Ryan Winchester and Remo Ruscitti, completed the top five for Saturday's doubleheader races. Winchester, of Mason City, IA, clocked in fourth at 1:34.581 in the No. 72 C360R/Ligion Industries/HPD Honda Civic Si. Ruscitti, of Vancouver, Canada in the No. 71 C360R/Ultimate Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si, was fifth at 1:35.437. The top seven drivers all beat the existing track record.
TCB saw Ernie Francis Jr. qualify fastest (1:48.380) for the third time this year. Initially, Francis Jr., in the No. 98 Festivals of Speed/Breathless Performance Mazda 2, was behind his father Ernie Sr. and Peter Schwartzott Sr. on the timesheets, but improved to set the fastest time on his last lap.
"When I was running by myself, I was catching everyone heading into the turns but on the straights, I lost it," said Francis Jr. "I was 10 seconds from the nearest B-spec. I got on the radio with my dad and said I would fall back and try to draft him for a lap. It happened to be the last lap of session. He let me go into China Beach (Turn 4), and that was the fastest lap."
Schwartzott Sr., of White Plains, NY, has his best start of the season in second in the No. 4 Peter Schwartzott Racing Chevy Sonic (1:48.702). He was exactly one-thousandth of a second clear of Francis Sr., at 1:48.703, who was third. Francis, from Davie, FL, drives the No. 2 Breathless Performance Mazda 2.
Rounding out the top five are Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, PA, in the No. 81 RaceLabz Honda Fit (1:48.863) and Robbie Davis, of Dallas, TX, in the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing MINI Cooper (1:48.867). Davis is second and Lipperini third in TCB points entering this Saturday's doubleheader.
Rounds 9 and 10 of the Pirelli World Challenge TC and TCB seasons begin at 5:10 p.m. ET
Pirelli World Challenge