BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, GA, secured the pole for the GTS Round 5 race later today at the MOMO Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park presented by Porsche, part of the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. It’s Baldwin’s second consecutive pole at Barber and his 9th career Pirelli World Challenge pole. Baldwin also broke his own qualifying lap record he set at Barber last year.
Early on in the 35-minute qualifying session, Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, CO in the No. 20 BestIT Racing Chevrolet Camaro topped the charts with a 1:32.782. Eight minutes into the session, Kris Wilson, of Monument, CO, in the No. 07 Orion/Royal Purple/LaSalle Solutions/PassTime USA TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 recorded a 1:31.772 to go P1.
A minute later, Baldwin, in the No. 73 RESET-MD GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman went to the top of the charts with a 1:31.550. Ten minutes into the session Baldwin bettered his time with a 1:31.103. Behind Baldwin it was Wilson (1:31.685), Dean Martin of Westland, MI, in the No. 50 Rehagen Racing/Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302 (1:32.020), Michael Cooper, of Syosset, NY, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28 (1:32.424), and Andrew Aquilante, of Chester Springs, PA, in the No. 32 Phoenix Performance/Calvert Dynamics Ford Mustang Boss 302 (1:32.234).
Of note, a number of competitors sat strategically in pit lane 15 minutes into the session. Lawson Aschenbach, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL in the No.1 Blackdog Speedshop Chevrolet Camaro Z28, Ben Clucas, of Northampton, England, in the No. 36 Kinetic Motorsports / Kia Racing DonorsChoose.Org Kia Optima, Mark Wilkins of Toronto, ON in the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports / Kia Racing PutOnTheBrakes.Org Kia Optima, and Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta, GA in the No. 87 DWW Motorsports iTrackzone.com Ford Mustang Boss 302 all opted to wait until more than half of the session was complete before they made their way onto the track.
After the wait on pit lane, Aschenbach finally posted a qualifying time (1:32.072) that at that moment placed him in fourth position with 13 minutes remaining in the session. Wilkins followed Aschenbach shortly after and move himself into second with a lap of 1:31.072. Clucas and Pumpelly continued to wait to see if the track would clear a bit looking to set their best laps.
After 20 minutes, the order was Baldwin (1:31.103), Wilkins (1:31.391), Wilson (1:31.398), and Martin (1:32.020). Of note, temperatures were warmer than those during the morning practice and times set during the morning practice session were not eclipsed during the afternoon qualifying session.
Near the end of the session, Clucas finally set a competitive lap time that placed him just short of pole, and second with a 1:31.373. While a number of drivers made final attempts to better the time set by Baldwin, the pole winning time would remain with the No. 73 Porsche. The only change to the top five order late in the session came from Pumpelly who turned a 1:31.620 for fifth on the grid. The final top five order for the Round 5 race is Baldwin, Clucas, Wilkins, Wilson, and Pumpelly. The top five were all within the 1:31 minute mark which should make this afternoon’s race up front a close affair.
On securing the pole for the Round 5 race, Baldwin had this to say, “Looking at the temperatures I knew that the track would not get better as the session lasted. I went out there and tried to get it done quickly and hoped that it would work in my favor. We had a clutch issue in the morning practice and we finished the repair with just one minute before qualifying, we just made it. The guys did a fabulous job today, my hats off to them. This track works well for the Cayman S. The track is one turn after another which is what our car does best … change direction. We feel good for today in either the dry or if it is a rain race. We as a team have really worked on the handling and we have tested in the rain so we feel good in either dry or rain for the race.”
Results are provisional until posted final. Round 5 for GTS is set for today at 4:55 p.m. Central time. Watch the race live at www.world-challengetv.com or www.torque.tv