St. Petersburg, Fla. – Michael Lewis scored the GT pole for Saturday’s Round 3 race at the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry will start on pole in GTA and GT Cup respectively. The 20-minute qualifying session was held under sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures.
Early on, Michael Cooper, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. went to the top of the charts with a 1:13.964, followed by Alvaro Parente in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 with a 1:13.985.
Parente then clicked off a 1:13.504 to go to the top of charts, followed by teammate Austin Cindric in the No. 6 K-PAX McLaren with a 1:13.776. Andrew Davis in the No. 76 Phoenix Performance Calvert Dynamics Porsche 911 GT3 R slotted into third on the charts with a 1:13.796.
In GTA, Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 66 Dime R&D Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT3 topped the charts with a 1:14.087. In GT Cup, Urry in the No. 20 Security National/Avasis Porsche 911 GT3 Cup posted a time of 1:17.200 for top spot in class.
Eight minutes into the season, Parente improved to a 1:13.077, with Cindric also improving to a 1:13.160, and Cooper posting a 1:13.204. In GTA, Fuentes in the No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia went to the top in class with a 1:13.939. In GT Cup, Urry improved his time to a 1:16.643.
At the 12-minute mark, Lewis, piloting the No. 41 EFFORT Racing/Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R, then went to the top with a 1:13.017. Parente followed with a 1:13.077, while four-time and defending 2015 GT Driver’s Champion Johnny O’Connell, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. slotted into third with a 1:13.095. Cindric posted a 1:13.160 to slot into fourth on the charts.
In GTA, Fuentes improved his time to a 1:13.708, while Urry also improved with a 1:16.643.
When the checkered flew to end the session, Lewis’ time held and he secured his first career GT pole. Parente will start second, O’Connell third, Cindric fourth, and Cooper fifth. JD Davison, in the No. 33 Nissan/GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT3 will start sixth (1:13.231) and Davis will start seventh (1:13.294).
Of note, the top seven in GT all posted times quicker than the previous track record set back in 2014 by Tomas Enge in the Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 (1:13.429).
Fuentes will start on pole in GTA (his third straight pole of the season), while Urry starts on pole in GT Cup (also his third straight pole of the season). Urry’s time of 1:16.643 eclipsed the previous GT Cup PWC qualifying St. Pete track record set by Colin Thompson in 2015 (1:18.562).
“We got our first pole position of the season for the No. 31 Porsche, and also my first outright GT pole with EFFORT Racing,” said Lewis. “Thank you to Porsche Motorsport North America, Stefan Pfeiffer and everybody at EFFORT Racing for digging deep. Thanks to them for not only making the car quick, but for also preparing Patrick’s car. We’re pretty strapped on time and personnel this week, so to get a pole position is going to make the guys more pumped for racing tomorrow. I have an awesome car this week, and I can’t say enough about this team. It’s a really special moment for the team after having so much adversity last week to come back strong with a pole position.”
“The course is completely different from last week’s COTA circuit,” said Fuentes. “The grip level is completely different too. We are very happy with the car and how my engineer Roberto (Embrozi) setup the Ferrari. We were fast all day yesterday and getting P1 in qualifying is fantastic. I have more experience this year because I know the circuit. Last year I was a rookie on these tracks. You cannot afford a mistake here with the walls and the tight circuit. At COTA, it was more wide open. Street circuits are very complicated. My plan is to stay out of trouble and stay off the walls.”
“In my first hot lap, I made a little mistake and then calmed down after that,” said Urry. “I waited for my next lap and some of the GT guys were playing some games too. I was confident I was going to be able to put on pole and got in my fast lap. Usually I tried to set fast time on my second timed lap. But sometimes it is the third or fourth lap. I know that after three or four laps that I’ll not improve my qualifying time. In the street circuit, you have to be much more cautious than you were at COTA. I love street courses and some of my best runs have been on streets courses. I was excited to get here.”
Results are provisional until posted final. GT, GTA and GT Cup drivers now get set for Round 3 of the 2016 season. Watch the race live at motortrendondemand.com starting at 9:35 am Eastern. Follow live timing and scoring at world-challenge.com.