Wisconsin racer nips youngster Nico Jamin by .007 of a second
ALTON, Va. – Jeff Courtney, one of the longest-running Pirelli World Challenge drivers, stunned the GTS qualifying field Saturday by taking his No. 99 RecStuff.com/Kenda/JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 to the pole position at VIRginia International Raceway in the PWC Nissan Grand Prix of VIR.
Courtney, the veteran from Milwaukee, Wis., waited until his final lap in the 15-minute GTS time trials to nip youngster Nico Jamin of France by .007 of a second with a best time of one minute, 55.144 seconds for an average speed of 102.23 miles per hour over the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR permanent road circuit.
Jamin, in the 2016 title-winning No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM Xbow GT4, held the top spot for much of the GTS qualifying session before Courtney’s last lap flyer. Jamin, winner last week in the Indy Lights race at Barber Motorsports Park, recorded a lap of 1:55.151 (102.23 mph) to round out the front row for Saturday’s 50-minute GTS sprint race on Saturday beginning 2:10 p.m.
Completing the top-five in GTS qualifying Saturday was Spain’s Rodrigo Baptista in the No. 3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR sports car at 1:55.326 (102.07 mph), Canada’s Anthony Mantella in the No. 8 Mantella Autosport KTM Xbow GT4 at 1:55.485 (101.93 mph) and two-time GTS series champion Lawson Aschenback of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4R at 1:55.812 (101.64 mph).
“The Maserati is a great car for this VIR course and I was fortunate enough to be here with Maserati previously in other races,” said Courtney. ‘We had a lot of data from those races and we spent some time up at the ‘shaker rig’ (suspension testing) up the down here. That help us a ton. I don’t know if we can hang long term with everyone else up front without the ABS brakes but we knew we could throw in a lap for the front of the field. Earlier in the week, we were not even sure if we could make it with some problems we had. So, this is a great turnaround for us. The qualifying session can be a little bit of panic for the team. We didn’t plan a last lap flyer. I just found some space to run and I got a great lap. It happens like that sometimes.”
Rounding out the top-ten in qualifying Saturday in the 17-car field were Martin Barkey of Hunstville, Ont., Canada in the No. 80 MBRP Performance Exhaust/Mantella KTM Xbow (101.53 mph); newcomer Jason Bell of Tampa, Fla., in the No. 2 Racers Edge Motorsports SIN R1 GT4 (the leading GTS Amateur at 101.53 mph); Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Azezzano GT (101.45 mph); Nate Stacy of Owasso, Okla., in the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (101.07 mph) and Aristotle Balogh of Palo Alto, Calif., in the No. 019 Stephen Cameron Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (100.83 mph).