ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 31, 2006) – Rookie Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., was fastest today in his Porsche 911 during practice for Saturday’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Round Two race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Tommy Archer’s Viper and James Sofronas’ Porsche completed the top three.-30-
Driving the No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3, Aschenbach turned a fastest lap of 1:19.134 (81.886 mph) around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile combination street and airport circuit.
“It’s a great event and a great track,” Aschenbach said after turning the time in the afternoon session. “It was surprising because you think street courses equal rough surfaces, but that’s not the case here. The layout’s really good. I’m really impressed!
“We ran sticker tires but did kind of a long-distance run today. We know what it will do in qualifying. We struggled with race setup a little bit at Sebring. That’s the biggest negative that we’re trying to overcome.
“The biggest difference between Sebring and St. Pete is power. At Sebring, trying to keep up with the power of the Corvettes and Vipers and Cadillacs—we just don’t have the power to do that on the long straightaways, and straightaways are more important there than they are here.”
Asked what the pole time might be and if Wolf Henzler’s 2004 track record of 1:18.886 (82.143 mph) might fall during qualifying in the heat of the day on Saturday, Aschenbach was confident.
“If the track is good and the conditions are right, I think you could see an 18 flat in qualifying.”
Driving the No. 5 c3controls/Autohaus Dodge Viper SRT, defending race champion Archer was second quickest, turning a lap in the afternoon session of 1:19.593 (81.414 mph). Archer started third in 2005, but passed both front row Porsches on the opening lap en route to leading every tour of the race.
Sofronas was third fastest in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 with a quick time of 1:19.958 (81.042 mph). Leighton Reese, who went faster than his morning session leading time in the afternoon session, but not fast enough to top the charts, was fourth in his No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette with a lap of 1:20.058 (80.941 mph).
Lou Gigliotti was fifth in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette with a fast time of 1:20.338 (80.659 mph).
Series point leader and opening-round race winner, Michael McCann, was sixth in his McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper. Defending series Champion Andy Pilgrim was seventh in his No. 1 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V.
Qualifying for Saturday afternoon’s race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m., when the slower half of Friday’s practice times will take to the track for 15 minutes, followed by the quicker half. Round Two of the SCCA SPEED GT Championship is scheduled to make its standing start at 4:45 p.m. for a 33-lap, or 50 minute, race.
Up to the second session notes for SCCA SPEED World Challenge are available on the SCCA Pit Board, featuring Live Timing and Scoring Presented by SRT, at www.world-challenge.com.
Saturday’s race will be broadcast Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED Channel.