SONOMA, Calif. — Renger van der Zande, of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, will start on pole for Saturday afternoon’s Round 18 GT race at Sonoma Raceway, at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Kia. Frankie Montecalvo, of Highlands, N.J., will start first on the GTA grid, while Colin Thompson, of Doylestown, Pa. will start on pole in GT Cup for Round 16.
Weather conditions for the 45-minute qualifying session were held under 72 degree temperatures with clear skies.
The session was split into two segments with GTA and GT Cup taking to the track first.
Early on in the GTA/GT Cup segment, Woodside, Calif.’s Mike Hedlund, in the No. 65 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia went to the top of the charts with a 1:35.904.
Race Control issued a red flag at the six-minute mark of the session for a disabled car sitting in turn 2. The qualifying session resumed with eight minutes left in the GTA/GT Cup segment.
Martin Fuentes, of Mexico City, Mexico, in the No. 07 ScuderiaCorsa/Hublot/Samsung/UnderArmour Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia then posted a 1:35.004 to go to the top of the charts.
Championship points leader Montecalvo, in the No. 66 Bayshore Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 then went to the top of the charts with a 1:34.843. A lap later he bettered his time with a 1:34.092 for the pole.
In GT Cup, Thompson, in the No. 11 Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation Cup posted the fastest time of the session with a 1:38.727. It’s Thompson’s 14th pole of the season.
Early in the GT session, van der Zande, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R went to the top of the chart with a 1:33.095, followed by Kevin Estre, of Lochau, Austria, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 with a 1:33.216. Van der Zande’s time would hold for the balance of the session to secure the pole. Estre’s time also held and he will start second on the grid.
Of note, GT championship contenders Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., and Olivier Beretta, of Monte Carlo, Monaco will start 5th and 7th respectively. O’Connell pilots the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-VR GT3, while Beretta pilots the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia.
Van der Zande’s time eclipsed the previous GT qualifying lap record of Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., in his Audi R8 Ultra of 1:33.167 set in 2014.
GT, GTA and GT Cup presented by MOMO drivers now get set for the Round 18/Round 16 race scheduled for Saturday at 4:35 p.m. Pacific. Watch the race live at world-challengetv.com or motortrendondemand.com. Follow live timing and scoring at http://worldchallenge.growsites.net/.