Lewis and Thompson Fastest in GTA and GT Cup
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge pole for Round 5 at the Streets of Long Beach, and the Pirelli World Challenge 'Roar by the Shore' presented by Replay XD, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA was fastest in GTA, while Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, PA will be on pole for the GT Cup presented by MOMO class.
The 30-minute qualifying session window was split into two 12-minute segments. The first group of cars included the fastest 19 from Friday morning's practice session while the second half of the field from practice went out for qualifying in the last 12 minutes.
Early in the first 12-minute segment, 2014 Long Beach race winner and pole sitter Johnny O'Connell, of Flowery Branch, GA, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 jumped to first with a 1:21.928. He then bested it a lap later with a 1:20.517. O'Connell's teammate Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, FL, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3 slid into second with a 1:20.910. Moments later, Michael Lewis, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3R, the GTA points leader coming into Long Beach, jumped to second with a 1:20.688.
O'Connell then broke his own track qualifying record of 1:20.386 he set in 2014, with a 1:19.978. Pilgrim followed suit with a 1:20.192. Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 moved into third with a 1:20.212.
At the 10-minute mark of the first segment a flurry of changes occurred as drivers got into a rhythm and tires heated to optimal levels. Beretta, the GT points leader coming into Long Beach, threw down a 1:19.634 to slot into first, a time eclipsed shortly afterwards by Estre with a 1:19.563. Beretta then reclaimed top slot with a 1:19.313 on the next lap.
As the checkered flew for the first 12-minute qualifying segment, Beretta's 1:19.313 topped the charts with Robert Thorne, of Littleton, CO, in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 second on the grid with a 1:19.506, Estre in third with a 1:19.563, O'Connell in fourth with a 1:19.738 and Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, FL, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R with a 1:19.872.
None of the group of drivers to take the track for the second 12-minute session cracked the top 10 in GT for Sunday's Round 5 race.
In GTA, Lewis will start first in class and seventh overall in GT after recording a 1:20.162. Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, MX, in the No. 07 Hublot/Samsung/Under Armour/Telcel Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia will start second in class and 10th overall in GT after recording a 1:29.394, while Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, CA, in the No. 05 AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R with a 1:20.660 will start third in class.
GT Cup presented by MOMO drivers went out in the second 12-minute segment and early on, Phil Fogg, Jr., of Portland, OR, in the No. 18 Zoro/Truspeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup posted a 1:28.638 with Sloan Urry, of Salt Lake City, UT, in the No. 02 Engel & Volkers TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup slotted into second with a 1:29.252.
Urry then went to the top with a 1:26.252, followed by Mitch Landry, of Lake Charles, LA, in the No. 97 Deep South/VersaCrane Landry Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with a 1:26.371, followed by Fogg with a 1:26.996. Urry then recorded a 1:24.398.
GT Cup points leader Colin Thompson jumped to the top with a 1:24.005. Thompson then recorded a 1:23.831 on the last lap of the qualifying session to secure the class pole. Urry will start second (1:24.398), with Fogg third on the grid (1:25.327). Lorenzo Trefethen, of Napa, CA, in the No. 13 Trefethen Family Vineyards ANSA Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup will start fourth on the grid (1:25.581), with Landry rounding out the top 5 in class with a 1:26.371.
In GT, the top nine qualifiers eclipsed the previous qualifying track record, with the top 10 separated by a second. Six different manufacturers will be featured in the top 10 on the GT grid with Ferrari, McLaren, Cadillac, Porsche, Acura and Audi all being represented.
"I am happy for Ferrari and Remo Ferri to claim the pole for tomorrow's race," said Beretta. "The team has done a great job in getting the car prepared for me. We are very confident in the race set up in the Ferrari for tomorrow. We know it will be a tough race with many other cars close to us on time. But we know that the track will be the same for everyone and we are confident we are in a good place for tomorrow."
"Right now I have a lot of confidence on this Long Beach track," said Lewis. "I have been working hard to nail the braking technique, especially into Turn 1. The rest of the track is really about using your skill to put it all together in a smooth way. The Porsche 911 really is great here and with the engine over the wheels like it is this gives me a lot of confidence on the brakes. My teammate Ryan Dalziel has been a huge help as I have never been here before in giving us data to look at for our setup. It's my first time racing here but I grew up 20 minutes away so this is a great beginning to my hometown race."
"That was a great way to start my first time here as a driver," said Thompson. "What an amazing track and such a huge fan event. The team did a great job for me and for my teammate (Urry). I knew it would be close after practice with me only five-thousands of a second quicker than him. It's so good to bring the pole to the Kelly Moss and Bucks County Porsche team."