SALINAS, Calif., — Ernie Francis, Jr., of Davie, Fla., scored the Round 16 TC pole in Friday morning’s qualifying session at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca presented by Cadillac. Paul Holton, of Tallahassee, Fla., will start on pole for TCA, while Joey Jordan, of Fallbrook, Calif., secured pole position in TCB.
TCB drivers first took to the track for a 20-minute qualifying session under 65-degree partly cloudy conditions.
Early on it was Tom O’Gorman, of Mason, Ohio in the No. 94 Full Throttle Indoor Karting Honda Fit who went to the top of the charts with a 1:54.544, followed by Jordan, in the No. 47 Protomotive Mazda Mazda2 with a 1:55.000.
Eight minutes into the session, Jordan then rose to the top with a 1:52.999 lap that would hold for the balance of the session. Andrei Kisel, of North Vancouver, B.C., slotted second on the grid in the No. 57 Racing.ca/LaptopScreen.com MINI Cooper with a 1:53.101.
Of note, championship points contenders Johan Schwartz, of Huntersville, N.C., in the No. 25 Tech Sport Racing/CASgroup/Serengeti/ZERO Cancer Chevrolet Sonic and Glenn Nixon, of Mission, B.C., in the No. 58 LaptopScreen.com/ClubRacing.com/Nixon Prosports/HPD Honda Fit posted times of 1:53.293 and 1:53.503 respectively and will start 3rd and 5th on the grid.
TC and TCA competitors then took to the track for their 20-minute session.
Early in the qualifier, TC championship points leader Corey Fergus, of Columbus, Ohio, topped the charts with a 1:37.233 in the No. 00 USLED/Axis Roofing/AERO/RSS/Motul Porsche Cayman, followed by championship contender Francis, Jr. with a 1:37.535. Francis, Jr. then posted a 1:36.315 to top the charts. Fergus then bettered his time with a 1:36.955. Vesko Kozarov, of Salt Lake City, Utah, slotted into third on the grid in the No. 3 Skullcandy/Stance/Nissan/Nismo Nissan Altima with a 1:37.326. Kozarov then bettered Fergus’ time to slot into second on the charts with a 1:36.750 that held until the end of the qualifying session.
In TCA, Paul Holton topped the charts with a 1:41.347 in the No. 71 Children’s Tumor Foundation/HPD/Racing4Research.org Honda Civic Si, followed by championship points contender Patrick Seguin, of Ottawa, Ont., in the No. 39 helpkevinproject.com Honda Civic Si with a 1:41.426. TCA Drivers’ Championship points leader Jason Wolfe, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, posted a 1:42.074 to slot into 4th with the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup. Tony Rivera, of Vista, Calif., in the No. 86 Tiburon Motorsports Scion FR-S will start third on the grid after posting a 1:41.952.
For Francis Jr., it’s his 4th pole of the season and he gains a valuable seven points in his quest for the TC Drivers’ Championship. Holton secured his first for the year. For Jordan, this will mark his second qualifying TCB pole position of the season.
“We just went out there knowing that we have to get the most points we possibly can this weekend,” said Francis Jr. “We’re right in the championship hunt and we want the pole and the win. The pole got us seven points and gets us closer to the top. We are going to try and run consistent fast races and grab a couple of wins. It would be a great experience to get our first Pirelli World Challenge championship at Mazda Raceway in a Mazda. That would be the way I want to do it. This is my first time racing here and I’m in love with the track. I played it a lot on IRace and Grand Turismo. It’s great fun to be here.”
“Compass360 gave me a really good car today with the Honda Civic Si,” said Holton. “This is my second time here and the track is really idolized. At first, you are really excited about the track and then you get used to the corners. But it is fun every time you are here. The Touring Cars have a specific driving style and you have to hit your marks. You have to figure out how to lift of the throttle and get the car to rolate and point. And then get on power and get a good run out of the corner. It’s very important in a Touring Car with lower horsepower.”
“On my fast lap, (Tom) O’Gorman was putting on the pressure and he was getting a little bit of a draft behind me,” said Jordan. “I then got a little bit of separation and I knew I had to put together a good one. I got a good run out of turn 11. Everything came together then and I just connected the dots. And I was able to come away with the pole. I still remember the first time I raced here. It was in a Spec Miata and I couldn’t believe how this racing facility was far and away bigger and better from any other facility I had race at before. I couldn’t forget the Corkscrew and this is one of the most famous tracks in the world. I have loved coming here ever since to Mazda Raceway.”
Results are provisional until posted final. TC, TCA and TCB drivers now get set for Round 16 of the championship scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Pacific / 5:15 p.m. Eastern. Watch live streaming of the race at world-challengetv.com or motortrendondemand.com.