BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – James Davison, of St. Petersburg, Fla., driving the No. 33 AIM Autosport Always Evolving/Replay XD/Nissan Nismo Nissan GT-R GT3 was able to take advantage of an emerging dry line and a switch to dry tires late in qualifying to take the pole position for today’s Round 6 GT/GTA and GT Cup race at the MOMO Grand Prix at Barber Motorsport Park presented by Porsche. Frank Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J. and Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, Pa. were fastest in GTA and GT Cup presented by MOMO respectively.
The 45-minute session was split into two 20-minute sessions with each session’s competitors determined by times registered from yesterday’s practice session. After an evening of heavy rain in the Birmingham area, the first 20 drivers who went out experienced full wet conditions.
Five minutes into the first session, Joseph Toussaint, of Houston, TX, driving the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Prisms.org/The National Ability Center Porsche GT3 headed the field with a 1:44.200. Behind Toussaint, two GT Cup class competitors, Victor Gomez, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, driving the DragonSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (1:42.413) and No. 77 Preston Calvert, of Potomac, MD, driving the No. 77 Phoenix American Motorsport Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (1:43.261) were second and third.
As the track dried the field began to fill in at the top with GT class cars and after 10 minutes the top five in order were Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, WI, in the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura Motorsports/HPD Acura TLX-GT (1:32.579), James Sofronas, of Pound Ridge, N.Y., in the No. 14 GMG Racing/Spyder/Mobil 1 Audi R8 LMS Ultra (1:33.371), GTA driver Drew Regitz, of Denver, Colo., driving the No. 19 Cameron Racing WWW.IRACERCOACHING.COM Audi R8 LMS Ultra (1:35.736), GTA driver Bret Curtis, of Austin, TX, in the No. 32 Turner Motorsport/SPECTRA Resources Corp/United Steel Supply/Valspar Paint BMW E89 Z4 GT3 (1:35.740), and Jeff Courtney, of Milwaukee, WI, in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Kenda/RecStuff.com Audi R8 LMS Ultra (1:37.473)
While the GT battle heated up the GT-Cup qualifying also went back and forth. As the first 20-minute session concluded the drying track allowed the top drivers to find more grip as the session concluded. Thompson, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Consturctors/Sherwin Williams/Austin Hatcher Foundation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was on pole position, with Alec Udell, of The Woodlands, TX, in the No. 17 GMG Amsource Capital / Panther Pipeline Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in second, and Sloan Urry, Salt Lake City, UT, in the No. 02 TruSpeed Autosport Engel & Voelkers Porsche 911 GT3 Cup third.
At the 20-minute point of the first session, the running order was the same as at the 10-minute mark, but with improved times. Cunningham led (1:32.579), Sofronas (1:33.324), Curtis (1:33.888), Regitz (1:34.880), and with a late session lap Tim Pappas, of Boston, MA, in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3R with 1:35.682.
With the start of the second session, while the track was drying it was not dry enough yet for the Pirelli P-Zero slicks. Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 posted a new fastest time of 1:31.854 and teammate Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Colo., piloting the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 posted a 1:32.440.
After 10 minutes (30 minutes of the total 40-minute session), the GT top 5 had a set of new names. Nicky Catsburg, of Voorthuizen, Netherlands, aboard the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo R_EX (1:30.419), Davison (1:30.579), Ryan Dalziel, of Windemere, Fla., driving the No. 31 EFFORT Racing / World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R (1:30.686), Ryan Eversley, Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing / Acura Motorsports / HPD Acura TLX-GT (1:31.093), and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla, with the No. 8 Cadillac Racing ATS-VR GT3 making up the top five.
As the session continued the GTA class top three also evolved as the track continued to dry. After a number of moves for the top position, the top three drivers in GTA were Montecalvo driving the No. 66 DragonSpeed Bayshore Racing Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3 (1:31.098), Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, Fla, aboard the MOMO / Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia (1:31.162), and Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, CA, in the Nissan GT Academy GT-R Nissan GT-R GT3 (1:31.258)
Likewise for the GT class the session allowed for the track to show a dry line. A few drivers opted to put on slick tires and roll the dice. As the final minutes wound down the pole position was swapped between Dalziel, Catsburg, and Davison in the final minutes. In the end Davison was able to make the most of the conditions with a 1:27.645 on his 11th lap of the session to take pole position. Catsburg ended up second with a 1:28.022 on his tenth lap, Thorne concluded third with a 1:38.757. Newly promoted to the GT class, Michael Lewis, of Laguna Beach, CA, driving the No. 41 EFFORT Racing / Curb-Agajanian
Porsche 911 GT3R with a 1:29.799 tenth session lap, and No. 61 Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, Monaco, in the R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari Ontario-Toronto- Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia with his 1:30.322 rounded out the top 5. For Davison, it’s his first career Pirelli World Challenge pole.
“Everyone started on wets and I knew we were quick because I had Ryan Eversley in front of me and we were catching him,” said Davison. “He has been extremely fast this year. We opted to pit for slicks when I felt the fronts graining. People were still going quicker on the slicks than I could on the drys but after about three laps out I was able to gain heat in the slick Pirelli tires. I put all of my energy into piecing together the best lap that I could and just got it done. We feel good today for the race whether it is wet or dry. With the Nissan turbo we should be good on the start and we are confident we can get
into turn 1 first and then drive a mistake free race to go for the win today.”
Note, both Thorne and Heitkotter will start from pit lane for Round 6 based on penalties assessed following the Round 5 Long Beach race.
Round 6 for GT, GTA, and GT-Cup is set for Saturday at 11:20 a.m. Central time. Watch the race live at www.world-challengetv.com and www.torque.tv.