Veteran sports car star says development of new Panoz working well now

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., recorded the first GTS pole position for Team Panoz Racing and its new Panoz Avezzano GT sports car Saturday at Road America with an impressive 105.66 mile per hour qualifying lap with the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT.

James, the experienced sports car driving star, toured the famed four-time road circuit north of Milwaukee at two minutes, 17.915 seconds to top the 34-car field which includes GTS, GT4 and Touring Car competitors set for Round 9 Saturday afternoon at 5:45 p.m. CDT.

“I’m very happy and excited for everybody back at the Panoz organization and the race team,” said James. “They’ve worked tirelessly to give me a better car and I did my bit today and we’re starting at P1 back where Panoz belongs. This track is one of my favorites in the world and I was fortunate enough to work here for one year with Skip Barber so I know the place pretty well. I always do pretty well here so this is a good first start and now part two is this afternoon (the race).”

Young Ernie Francis Jr. of Miami, Fla., took his No. 40 PF Racing Ford Mustang to the other front row position for Saturday’s 50-minute GTS event at Road America with a very close 2:17.947 (105.64 m.p.h.) followed by local favorite Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee, Wis., at 2:18.097 (105.52 m.p.h.) in the No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 and Austin Versteeg of Sandy, Utah, at 2:18.495 (105.22 m.p.h.) in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow GT4.

Making up row three in Saturday’s GTS event will be Martin Barkey of Huntsville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 Mantella Autosports KTM X-Bow GT4 at 2:18.525 (105.19 m.p.h.) and two-time GTS champion and current GTS point leader Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at 2:18.941 (104.88 m.p.h.) in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.

The top GTS Am qualifier was Fred Roberts of Toronto, Ont., Canada in the No. 89 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 with a time of 2:19.161 (104.71 m.p.h.) with second going to Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City, Utah in the No. 15 Ian Lacy Racing Ginette G55 at 2:19.271 (104.63 m.p.h.) and George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., at 2:19.669 (104.33 m.p.h.) in the No. 04 Crowdstrike/GMG McLaren 570S.

In the Touring Car category, young Cody Ellsworth of Jupiter, Fla., bettered the 13-year-old TC qualifying mark held by PWC legend Peter Cunningham with a 2:26.309 (99.60 m.p.h.) in his No. 111 Racerlink Motorsports Porsche Cayman. Cunningham’s 2004 record was 2:26.445 and 99.510 m.p.h.

Rounding out the top-three in the Touring Car category in Road America qualifying Saturday were the GenRacer teammates, Nicholas Barbato of Wallingford, Conn., in the No. 75 GenRacer Genesis Coupe and Jeff Ricca of Milford, Conn., in the No. 78 GenRacer Genesis Coupe. Barbato’s time was 2:26.381 (99.55 m.p.h.) with Ricca’s at 2:26.696 (99.34 m.p.h.).

Completing the TC top-five were Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Canada at 2:26.750 (99.30 m.p.h.) in the No. 91 ST Racing BMW M235iR and defending TC series champion Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., at 2:27.254 (98.96 m.p.h.) in the No. 1 Classic BMW BMW M235iR.

GTS Round 9 is scheduled for Saturday (June 24) at 5:45 pm CDT and will be live-streamed for free from as well as Check for direct links to all live streams.

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Qualifying results for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge Round 9 GTS and Touring Car classes at Road America. All results are provisional until posted Final.

Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Fastest Lap Time,Fastest Lap Avg. Speed
1,1, Pro,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,Panoz Avezzano GT,3,Not Running,2:17.915,105.6
2,2, Pro,Ernie FRANCIS JR,Miami, FL,Ford Mustang,3,Running,2:17.947,105.6
3,3, Pro,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,Maserati GT4,6,Not Running,2:18.097,105.5
4,1, Am,Austin VERSTEEG,Sandy, Utah,KTM Xbow GT4,8,Not Running,2:18.495,105.2
5,4, Pro,Martin BARKEY,Huntsville, ON,KTM Xbow GT4,10,Running,2:18.525,105.1
6,5, Pro,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,3,Not Running,2:18.941,104.8
7,2, Am,Fred ROBERTS,Toronto, ON,Maserati GT4,10,Running,2:19.161,104.7
8,6, Pro,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,Barcelona, Spain,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,5,Not Running,2:19.267,104.6
9,3, Am,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,Ginetta G55,8,Not Running,2:19.271,104.6
10,7, Pro,Harry GOTTSACKER,San Antonio, TX,Ginetta G55,5,Not Running,2:19.622,104.3
11,4, Am,George KURTZ,Paradise Valley, AZ,McLaren 570s GT4,7,Not Running,2:19.669,104.3
12,5, Am,Keith JENSEN,Fort Worth, TX,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,5,Not Running,2:19.782,104.2
13,6, Am,Cameron CASSELS,Coldstream, BC, CA,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,7,Not Running,2:20.091,104.0
14,8, Pro,Parker CHASE,New Braunsfels, TX,Ginetta G55,4,Not Running,2:20.324,103.8
15,9, Pro,Nate STACY,Tulsa, OK,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,5,Not Running,2:20.384,103.8
16,7, Am,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,McLaren 570S GT4,10,Running,2:20.420,103.7
17,8, Am,Bill ZIEGLER,Ponte Vedra, FL,KTM Xbow GT4,8,Not Running,2:20.609,103.6
18,9, Am,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,5,Not Running,2:20.932,103.4
19,10, Am,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,SIN R1 GT4,7,Not Running,2:20.952,103.3
20,11, Am,Adam MERZON,Greenwich, CT,Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR,10,Running,2:22.421,102.3
21,12, Am,Chris BEAUFAIT,Freeland, WA,SIN R1 GT4,8,Running,2:23.350,101.6
22,13, Am,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,Ginetta G55,5,Not Running,2:23.503,101.5
23,14, Am,James PESEK,Harrisonville, MO,Ford Mustang,5,Not Running,2:24.134,101.1
24,1, TC,Cody ELLSWORTH,,Porsche Cayman,5,Not Running,2:26.309,99.6
25,2, TC,Nicholas BARBATO,Wallingford, CT,Genesis Coupe,8,Not Running,2:26.381,99.5
26,3, TC,Jeff RICCA,Milford, CT,Genesis Coupe,5,Not Running,2:26.696,99.3
27,4, TC,Nick WITTMER,Montreal, Quebec, CA,BMW M235iR,8,Running,2:26.750,99.3
28,5, TC,Toby GRAHOVEC,Celina, TX,BMW M235iR,8,Not Running,2:27.254,98.9
29,6, TC,Jayson CLUNIE,Prince Albert, Sask, CA,BMW M235iR,8,Not Running,2:27.982,98.4
30,7, TC,Samantha TAN,Gormley, Ontario, CA,BMW M235iR,6,Not Running,2:28.965,97.8
31,8, TC,Stefan SAJIC,Belgrade, Serbia,BMW M235iR,8,Not Running,2:29.605,97.4
32,9, TC,Max FEDLER,Denver, CO,BMW M235iR,5,Not Running,2:29.820,97.2
33,10, TC,Marko RADISIC,Belgrade, Serbia,BMW M235iR,9,Running,2:30.071,97.1
34,11, TC,Gino CARINI,Milwaukee, WI,BMW M235iR,8,Not Running,2:31.518,96.1