BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With near perfect weather, Ben Clucas, of Northampton, England, smashed the previous GTS track record set in 2014 in the morning practice at the Pirelli World Challenge MOMO Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park presented by Porsche, part of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. Clucas in the No. 36 Kinetic Motorsports / Kia Racing DonorsChoose.Org Kia Optima set a time of 1:30.961 which eclipsed the previous track class record set by Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, GA, (1:31.937).
Early in the 60-minute session, Spencer Pumpelly, of Atlanta, GA, in the No. 87 DWW Motorsports / iTrackzone.com Ford Mustang Boss 302 set the early fast time (1:33.473) with the duo of Clucas (1:33.637) and Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, ON in the No. 38 Kinetic Motorsports / Kia Racing PutOnTheBrakes.Org Kia Optima close behind (1:33.823).
Fifteen minutes into the session the top five had all broken into the 1:31 bracket. Jack Baldwin, in the No. 73 RESET-MD Porsche Cayman set the pace field with a (1:31.215), followed by Kris Wilson, from Monument, CO, in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Orion/RoyalPurple/La Salle Solutions/PassTime USA Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in second, Lawson Aschenbach, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Z28, Kurt Rezzatano, Phoenixville, PA, in his No. 37 Phoenix American Motorsports / Calvert Dynamics Ford Mustang Boss 302, and Pumpelly. Of note, the top five were all within five-tenths of a second and the top 10 were all within one second.
At the 30-minute mark, Baldwin remained at the top. However, the order among the top five had changed with Wilkins moving into second, Pumpelly in third, Wilson fourth, and Dean Martin, of Westland, MI, in the No. 50 Rehagen Racing / Picture Cars East Ford Mustang Boss 302 in fifth. In addition, the top seven GTS cars were all in the 1:31 second bracket.
Forty-one minutes into the session, Clucas made his move to the top of the timing charts. His blistering lap was the only lap time into the 1:30 second bracket for the session.
At the 45-minute mark, the order in the top five had changed again behind Clucas. Baldwin was second, with Wilkins third, Pumpelly fourth, and Wilson rounding out the top five.
The order of Clucas (1:30.961), Baldwin (1:31.215), Wilkins (1:31.279), Pumpelly (1:31.367), and Wilson (1:31.674) were the top five at the end of the 60-minute session. The top five listed were within seven-tenths of a second and position two through eight all broke into the 1:31 second bracket. The session was completed without any caution periods or major incidents for the GTS field.
Clucas had this to say about the session: “Obviously we are very happy with the session. Most of the tracks I am coming to this year with the Kia are new so I tend to get better as the weekend progresses. We haven’t made many changes with the car since the test day yesterday and I had the set up data from my teammate Mark who was here last year. We had a clean lap and the Pirelli “sticker” tires worked great.”
Round 5 qualifying for GTS is set for today at 1:40 p.m. Central time. Watch live timing and scoring at http://www.world-challenge.com/liverace/index.html.