GRANTSVILLE, Utah — Adam Poland of Ft. Worth, Texas, drove his No. 33 Doghouse Performance Mazda MX-5 to the fastest Touring Car Class speed Thursday in the opening practice of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by Energy Solutions over the 3.048-mile, 14-turn outer road circuit Utah Motorsports Campus outside of Salt Lake City.
Joey Bickers led the TCA division action with his No. 49 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda MX-5 Cup with 15-year-old Henry Morse topping the TCB category Thursday in the No. 14 Hale Motorsports Mazda 2.
Poland, who finished third in the final 2015 TC points, recorded the quickest time of all TC classes Thursday with a best of two minutes, 6.921 seconds for an average speed of 86.454 miles per hour with second going to Patrick Gallagher of Thornville, Ohio, in his No. 54 Atlanta Motorsports Mazda MX-5 at 2:07.207 (86.259 mph) followed John Weisberg of Webster, N.Y., in the No. 5 BERG Racing Mazda MX-5 at 2:07.480 (86.075 mph). Local driving star Vesko Kozarov of Salt Lake City posted the fourth quickest TC lap at 2:07.550 (86.027 mph) in the No. 3 CA Sport Nissan 370Z with Tony Rivera rounding out the Top-5 at 2.07.943 (85.763 mph) in his No. 97 Brass Monkey Racing Nissan 370Z.
In the TCA class, Bickers, a multi-time winner in 2016, paced the TCA category Thursday with a top time of 2:14.085 and a speed of 81.835 mph with second going to Eric Powell of Orlando, Fla., at 2:14.888 (81.347 mph) in the No. 23 TechSport Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup. Forest Landy of Great Falls, Va., rounded out the top-three positions in the No. 9 Atlanta Motorsports Mazda MX-5 Cup with a 2:15.043 (81.254 mph). Last year’s TCB series champion, Johan Schwartz of Huntersville, N.C., took his No. 66 Shea Racing Honda Civic SI at 2:15.092 (81.225 mph) for fourth Thursday in TCA while former TCA point champion Jason Wolfe of Mt. Vernon, Ohio completed the top-five at 2.15.754 (80.829 mph).
Morse, the former karting star of Redondo Beach, Calif., notched the top spot in TCB at 2:27.307 and 74.489 m.p.h., with Ted Hough of Farmington, Minn., second at 2.27.381 and 74.452 mph. Road America double winner Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, placed third Thursday at 2:27..406 (74.439 mph) with the rounding out of the top-five by P.J. Groenke of Richmond Hill, Ont., Canada at 2:29.227 (73.531 mph) and Canaan O’Connell of Chandler, Ariz., son of four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell, at 2:29.329 (73.481 mph).
The TC classes are scheduled for qualifying and Race 1 on Friday at Utah Motorsports Campus with five other divisions – GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS and SprintX making their first official laps of the PWC weekend.