Audi, Mercedes, Porsche & Ferrari Make Up Top 5 Spots in SprintX
ALTON, Va. – Germany’s Pierre Kaffer and Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel were 1-2 Friday in the opening day of practice action for the SprintX GT division at the Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Grand Prix of VIR at the VIRginia International Raceway.
The Pirelli World Challenge brought an overall 110 entries in its return to VIR after a seven-year-absence at the popular 3.27-mile, 17-turn permanent road circuit north of the Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro, North Carolina metro areas.
33 sprintX entries took practice times Friday in the division that features two 60-minute, two-driver, one pit stop races on Saturday and Sunday at VIR. Saturday’s one-hour SprintX contest will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT, and Sunday’s main event gets underway at 1:15 p.m. EDT.
Kaffer, teaming with Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS sports car this weekend, clocked the VIR pavement with a best lap of one minute, 44.279 seconds for an average speed of 112.88 miles per hour. The current qualifying track mark for PWC GT cars was set in 2010 by Andy Pilgrim at 1:56.086 (101.407 m.p.h.).
“VIR is one of my favorite tracks in the (United) States and I am always happy to be here,” said Kaffer, a factory Audi competitor. “I have a lot of very good memories here from the past. We tried several things at the recent test here and it suited our Audi R8 very well. Magnus Racing have given us a very good car in terms of balance which is very important at VIR. You have to very precise and on point with this track. We are looking forward to Saturday’s race and the entire weekend.”
Kaffer and Pumpelly will split the driving duties in each of the two SprintX events Saturday and Sunday at VIR in the Pro-Pro class.
Dalziel, the former Daytona 24 Hours winner driving with Canada’s Daniel Morad in the doubleheader, took his No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVibliss Mercedes AMG GT3 sports car to the second quickest lap of the day in SprintX with a 1:44.327 and 112.83 m.p.h. in the Pro-Pro category. Third overall and the leader in the Pro-Am class was Jeroen Bleekemolen of Monaco in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 machine also at 1:44.327 and 112.83 m.p.h. Bleekemolen will team up with Tim Pappas of Boston for the two 60-minute events this weekend.
“We rolled off the truck pretty good today with the Mercedes,” said Dalziel. “We made changes to improve the car. Obviously, VIR is a good track for the Mercedes with us and Bleekemolen in the top-three today. VIR is one of my favorite tracks in North America. We feel good about the development of the car here. Daniel (Morad) has done a good job getting up to speed for his first time in the car. We focused on each guy making changes in the setup. We didn’t test here even with CRP Racing based in Charlotte. But Nick (Short) and his crew have done a good job with preparation of the car. So far this year it has been a lot of me getting used to the Mercedes. We were fast at Long Beach a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t qualify well. I feel we have a good opportunity here with SprintX this weekend to win a couple of races.”
Rounding out the top-five in SprintX practice Friday was the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with veterans Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Jörg Burgmeister of Germany at the helm. Long clocked the best time for the pair with a 1.44.548 (112.59 m.p.h.) while the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 turned a best lap of 1:44.716 (112.41 m.p.h.) with Spain’s Alex Riberas and Canada’s Kyle Marcelli taking turns behind the wheel.
Qualifying for Saturday’s SprintX contest will get underway at 10:40 a.m. EDT at VIR.