ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Butch Leitzinger, of Rebersburg, Pa., secured his first career Pirelli World Challenge Series GT pole, and first for Bentley in Friday morning’s 45-minute GT/GTA qualifying session for the Round 11 race at the DeVilbiss Grand Prix at Road America presented by Cadillac. Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif. scored his fourth GTA pole of the season.
Leitzinger in the No. 20 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Team Bentley/Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3 put down a blistering mark of 2:03.912 (117.606 mph) to break a track record that had been established in 2014 by Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., who posted a lap time of 2:08.216 and speed of 113.658 mph at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course.
It will be an all-Bentley front row in GT, as teammate Chris Dyson from Pleasant Valley, N.Y., qualified second in 2:04.386 in his No. 16 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil1 Team Bentley/Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Tomas Enge, of Kirchanschöring, Germany, qualified third with a 2:04.421 in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2.
Skeen, who won both GT races last season qualified fourth on Friday with a lap of 2:05.003 in the No. 2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance/CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla. will start 5th in his No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO/Porsche 911 GT3R after posting a 2:05.045.
In GTA, early on in the session, Heitkotter in the No. 05 AE Replay Nissan GT Academy GT-R XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R-GT 3 posted a 2:05.704, which at the time, was fourth fastest overall and first in GTA. GTA points leader Henrique Cisneros, of Miami, Fla, in the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia was second with 2:06.550. Cisneros then bettered that time with a 2:06.303, for second in GTA.
Later in the session, Heitkotter went faster with a 2:05.383. Timothy Pappas, of Boston, Mass., in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Dodge Viper GT3R, slotted into second in GTA and 14th overall with a 2:06.127. Frank Montecalvo, Highlands, N.J. in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing/Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3 will start third in GTA after posting a 2:06.261. Of note, Heitkotter will start first in GTA, and 8th overall on the GT grid.
The pole for Leitzinger and Bentley is especially gratifying for the driver of the No. 20 car and for the Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3 team after a crash in one of the practice sessions at the last race weekend at Detroit damaged the No. 20 car beyond repair and he was unable to compete in Round 10 at Belle Isle.
“I had a bit of problem at Detroit and gave the Dyson crew a lot of work the last few weeks,” said Leitzinger.”We had go to a brand new tub for this weekend and the timing was so tight that they actually just finished up the car on Thursday. But the crew did a great job and Bentley builds a tremendous car that we were immediately on the pace this morning. Actually, I was a little shocked when the team told me the lap time (a new track record by over 4 seconds). There were a few elements that helped us today. We had some temperature in the track surface but the air temperature wasn’t high. So we were still making power and the tires came up to racing temperature quickly. And the Pirelli rubber is the best in the first couple of laps. I had a mix of the track and tire temperature at the perfect time. Plus I was able to get a clear lap and that helps as Road America is a long track.”
“The downforce on the car is really good and this track has a lot of nice, fast turns,” added Leitzinger. “Through turn one, the carousel and the kink is where our Bentley really works well. I think we give back a little on the slower turns and that is why the street circuits are tough for our cars. This track is just suited well for the Bentley.”
“It was a great morning qualifying session for us,” said Heitkotter. “Everything went as we had planned. I was pushing like crazy in that session. My teammate, James (Davison), is superfast and we have been trying fast laps so far this weekend. He got me by a little in the qualifying (Davison will start 7th in GT). We are feeling good for the race today. The track conditions were excellent this morning. The temperature was cool, but the track did have a little heat in it from the sun coming out. The track was super quick as the GT lap record was shattered this morning. I started my racing career in 2011 and have probably raced at Road America more than any other track. I have always gone well here for some reason. I don’t know why because there is a little bit of everything at this track. There is high speed, low speed, long straights and braking zones. It has everything here. I just love Road America.”
Results are provisional until posted final.
GT, and GTA competitors take to the track for Round 11 later today at 1:25 p.m. Central. Watch live streaming of the race at www.world-challengetv.com and torque.tv.