The lottery that is the post-qualifying coin toss determined the pole sitters for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car races at Road America this weekend. James Sofronas and Kuno Wittmer will start on pole in the respective ...
The lottery that is the post-qualifying coin toss determined the pole sitters for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car races at Road America this weekend. James Sofronas and Kuno Wittmer will start on pole in the respective classes.
While Sofronas, in a Porsche 911 GT3, nailed a "heads" prediction to keep P1 in GT, Touring Car's Charles Espenlaub wasn't so fortunate after his "heads" call came up snake eyes and landed tails. Sofronas and Espenlaub each set their fastest laps on their first lap out on the 4.048-mile natural terrain road course.
"I did my own pace on the warm-up lap and kept the tires real cool," Sofronas said. "Then I started get some heat around the Carousel, the car was really sticking and confidence up at that point. I just nailed that, I'm shifting a lot earlier than I was yesterday. The Porsches are slippery and they get good traction, so that's why I parked it because I would never do that lap again.
Sofronas captured his second career pole, and second this season, with a lap at 2:15.860. Wittmer and Tony Rivera in another Porsche set exactly the same time at 2:16.051. They set the times on the same lap, however Wittmer's next fastest lap was quicker than Rivera's, hence he gets the outside pole position.
Sofronas dispelled the notion that the Porsches, likely to be down on top speed in the long straights that encompass the track, could qualify on pole position. Wittmer, racing Bob Woodhouse's Dodge Viper, starts second with the rest of the top five Rivera, points leader Brandon Davis (Ford Mustang) and Eric Curran (Corvette).
The Global Motorsports Group driver also has the handicap of additional weight tacked onto his Porsche. Despite running a wider rear track in the car with a new 75 pound addition to the car, Sofronas maintained strong momentum throughout the lap.
"The guys didn't just bolt it on, they thought about where they can put it to maintain the bias," Sofronas explained. "There's only about 20 millimeters difference between the two (setups). It means a lot that the team can overcome the extra weight. We'll see how it is over a long race."
A couple changes in the GT field see Gunter Schaldach moving to Brass Monkey Racing in a Porsche; he will start 10th, one spot behind his former car, the Lala Motorsports Viper wheeled by Mike Borkowski. Also local driver Brian Kubinski makes his first start since Autobahn from 11th in his yellow Corvette.
Touring Car was Espenlaub's second consecutive fastest qualifying session, as the Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6 pilot also accomplished the feat at Mid-Ohio. But unlike at Mid-Ohio, his "heads" call did not end up that way and thus the top five is inverted.
"I did (the call) on my own," he said. "I called it right at Ohio, so it's a 50/50 deal. It's hard to get up there and to start 5th is a bit disheartening, but if he would have been behind me he would have had the pole."
The Mazdas have been quickest in practice sessions and down the straights, so it was likely one would set the pace come qualifying. Espenlaub said he felt good about the chemistry of his lap and with the Tri-Point team.
"Obviously here with the long straightaways, we tried the best strategy which was to follow Kuno, as he's been quick in everything," Espenlaub said. "He gave me a tow and that was basically what did it for the lap."
Wittmer then starts P1 in his usual RealTime Racing Acura TSX, ahead of points leader Jason Saini (Mazda), Pierre Kleinubing (Acura), Patrick Lindsey (Mazda) and Espenlaub.
"Hat's off to Charles, he really benefited off the draft," Wittmer admitted. "He really did it, he's a real pro. Losing it to a coin toss is unfortunate, and I know how he feels because I lost it in New Jersey. I know it won't take long for him to be on my bumper."
Given the speed disparity and the propensity for bumper-to-bumper racing in SPEED World Challenge, the races Saturday for Touring Car and Sunday for GT should be action-packed. The Touring Car race starts at 5:45 p.m. tonight and the GT race 9:35 a.m. tomorrow morning.