Long Beach: Series Saturday practice report

Wittmer, McQuarrie and Stout Lead Opening World Challenge Practice at Long Beach LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2010) -- Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, led Saturday morning's practice session for Sunday's Toyo Tires World Challenge at Long Beach ...

Wittmer, McQuarrie and Stout Lead Opening World Challenge Practice at Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2010) -- Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, led Saturday morning's practice session for Sunday's Toyo Tires World Challenge at Long Beach Presented by Bondurant Round Three race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. Drifting star Tyler McQuarrie, of Pleasant Hill, Calif., and 18-year-old Robert Stout, of Brownsburg, Ind., led the GTS and Touring Car classes, respectively.

Wittmer topped a very competitive GT class in the No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper with a fast lap of 1:25.759 (82.613 mph) in the 30-minute session.

The lap was also just off the Long Beach qualifying record of 1:25.086.

"The times being so close to the qualifying record surprised us because we were still on some old rubber from St. Pete," Wittmer said. "The car feels pretty good. The team has definitely been working hard the last two weeks. They worked hard all year, but the last two weeks the cars were really in pieces just trying to put all the data and input I'm giving them to work.

"The guys were here until 2 a.m. last night working on the cars after yesterday's session. We're making good progress."

Trailing Wittmer by 0.054-second was Round One winner Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 with a lap of 1:25.813 (82.561 mph). Pobst's teammate, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., placed his No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 third on the time sheets with a lap of 1:25.867.

Dino Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., who won Round Two, was fourth in the No. 4 Centric Parts/Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3. Just 0.137-second separated the top four cars in the GT class.

Defending Long Beach race winner and current GT Championship leader James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., completed the top five in his No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3.

McQuarrie, who participated in the Formula Drift event that utilized three corners of the street circuit last weekend, led the GTS class with a fast lap of 1:34.152 (75.248 mph) in the No. 19 LPL/DRS/Switcars/SCC/Dayco/M&T Lotus Exige S.

"The car was awesome," McQuarrie said. "The track changed a little bit compared to yesterday afternoon but it seemed to suit our car better -- it developed a little bit of understeer. Yesterday, it was a little too loose.

"Through one, the water fountain and through four, five and six, this car is just blindingly quick. It's like driving a kart over there."

The World Challenge rookie turned his lap early in the 30-minute practice, but ended the session early with a broken gear box that will need to be repaired before Sunday morning's qualifying session.

"Fourth gear went," McQuarrie said of the setback. "I was coming down the front straight and saw smoke so I just pulled into pit exit. I'm hoping that's all it is. I didn't get any alarms with the motor so I think the smoke was coming from the gearbox. The good news is we have a spare, but its stock and the ratios are quite a bit different."

Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., was quickest in Friday's practice session, and ended Saturday in the No. 43 Acura/Real Time Racing Acura TSX just 0.175-second in arrears of McQuarrie.

Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., piloted his No. 41 Go4It Racing Schools/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette to third, the third different make at the top of the GTS class charts.

Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., was fourth in the No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, followed by actor/racer Patrick Dempsey in the No. 03 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA3.

Stout, driving the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC, topped Nick Wittmer, of Montreal, by 0.253-second with a lap of 1:38.039 (72.265 mph). Stout earned a pair of runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg on the opening weekend.

"Long Beach is awesome," the 18-year-old Stout said. "I love being here. It's such an amazing atmosphere. I couldn't ask for a better opportunity this weekend with this Scion.

"I think we have a really good opportunity here this weekend with the Rockstar/Lucas Oil car. Dan Gardner helped us put the Scion together and we've been really strong so far this year. I think we have a really good chance going into qualifying."

Wittmer, the younger brother of GT leader Kuno, led early in the practice, lost the lead to Stout, and turned his fastest lap of 1:38.292 (72.079 mph) as the checkered flag ended the session.

Eric Meyer, of Indianapolis, Ind., was third in the XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8 with a lap of 1:39.221 (71.404 mph).

Stout's teammate, Dan Gardner, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was quickest on Friday in the No. 36 DG Spec/Scion/TRD/Lepper&Associates Scion tC and finished fourth in the session despite losing an oil line at the mid-point of the session.

Tommy Chen, of Pasadena, Calif., completed the top five in the No. 08 Autoworld/Speed Trial USA Mazda RX-8.

The teams will qualify at 8:25 a.m. (PDT) on Sunday in preparation for the race on Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. (PDT).

-source: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Peter Cunningham , Michael Pettiford , Nick Esayian , Kuno Wittmer , Dino Crescentini , Patrick Dempsey , Nick Wittmer , Eric Meyer , Dan Gardner , Tommy Chen , Robert Stout
Teams RealTime Racing , K-Pax Racing