PWC

Sofronas, Saini score Autobahn poles

James Sofronas and Jason Saini set the bar in each of their respective classes, GT and Touring Car, for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge events this weekend at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet. Although each set the quickest time, they had to ...

James Sofronas and Jason Saini set the bar in each of their respective classes, GT and Touring Car, for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge events this weekend at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet. Although each set the quickest time, they had to survive the coin toss to determine whether a top-five inversion would take place.

Luckily, both called their shots correctly. Saini called tails, Sofronas heads, and when the coin landed it was each driver's prediction. Both drivers' teams, Tri-Point Motorsports for Saini in a Mazda 6, and Global Motorsports Group for Sofronas in a Porsche 911 GT3, had their teammates in fifth place so in either case a driver from those teams would start up front.

Sofronas earns his first pole after years of racing but being unsuccessful in qualifying. Sofronas was the only driver in the 2:26 range, at 2:26.960 with Randy Pobst driving second quick for K-PAX Racing a Volvo S60.

"I was pleasantly surprised the lap was what it was, I looked back at the final corner and it was 2:20 flat at that point," Sofronas said. "We found something in the brakes, the car freed up and we knew we had hit the setup. It was a great feeling, we were searching for a pole and we finally got one."

Behind the front row the remainder of the fast five was Tony Rivera in a Porsche, Andy Pilgrim in a Volvo, and Dino Crescentini in the second GMG Porsche.

The fastest Mustang, Viper and Corvette start sixth through eighth, piloted by Brandon Davis, Eric Curran and Gunter Schaldach respectively. The car a lot of people here have their eyes on, Spencer Pumpelly in the TRG Mercedes-Benz SLR 722 GT, timed in 14th at 2:31.311. Meanwhile the lone Aston Martin DB9 in the field, Nick Mancuso, starts from 17th.

In Touring Car, Saini ensured a Mazda would be on pole at a race the manufacturer is sponsoring. Mazda has been omnipresent throughout the eight divisions running this weekend and Saini was relieved to be on pole, and surviving the coin toss.

"Somebody said tails went cold," Saini joked. "But I had a good feel about it. We figured out our car from the morning and a lot of it was the track conditions were really good. Despite the rain, the track still had tons of grip, and the air was cool."

At a time of 2:38.148 around the 3.56-mile, 19-turn road course, Saini led Eric Foss, Kuno Wittmer, Peter Cunningham and Charles Espenlaub. Mazdas and the RealTime Acura TSX makes swept the top five. The BimmerWorld BMW 328i's were all stuck trying to find grip in the 2:40 range, starting eighth through tenth with drivers Seth Thomas, James Clay and Nick Esayian.

The Touring Car race is at 10:25 a.m. local time with the GT event the second to last this weekend of all the series in action, at 3:10 p.m.

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Peter Cunningham , Eric Curran , Charles Espenlaub , Spencer Pumpelly , Tony Rivera , Nick Esayian , Kuno Wittmer , James Sofronas , Dino Crescentini , Seth Thomas , Brandon Davis , Jason Saini , Gunter Schaldach , Nick Mancuso , Eric Foss