SEBRING, Fla. (March 18, 2009) – Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., topped the afternoon charts at Sebring International Raceway to lead all SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship drivers in preparation of qualifying for Friday’s Toyo Tires Season Opener, part of the 57th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida. All drivers in the afternoon session went faster than their times from the morning.
Driving the No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette, the 2007 race winner cut a fastest lap of 2:10.320 (102.210 mph) on his first flying lap around the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit. The time was 0.831-second faster than anyone else on the day.
“We did a simulated qualifying run,” Curran said after the 20-minute session. “We kind of had to. We’ve been making some shock changes trying to make the car better. We had a whole different set of shocks that we tried yesterday and got way off track from where we needed to be. I was getting nervous about it. So today, we went back to the setup we had before and put some stickers on it and we went for a qualifying run. I needed to know what we had for tomorrow. I was getting nervous about us getting way off base.
“We’re quick and it looks like we’re quick right now against the rest of the field, but I think we were the only one out here that did a simulated qualifying run. I look around impound and see a lot of old tires from last year. I think you can pick up a second easily just by stickering up and you’ll see a lot of cars go faster in qualifying tomorrow. We were fast this afternoon, but it really doesn’t tell the full story.”
Curran is looking forward to getting his season started off on the right foot. The last two seasons have been feast or famine, with a series-leading five race wins, but an improbable seven finishes outside of the top 20 due to a multitude of reasons.
“This Whelen Corvette is working real good and we’re pleased about it,” Curran added. “We spent four days testing here at Sebring in the offseason and we’ve been working hard at getting the reliability better and to make the car the best it can be. These Whelen guys are at the top of their game and we’re really excited for the 2009 season.”
Jason Daskalos, of Albuquerque, N.M., was second fastest on the day in his No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper with a time of 2:11.151 (101.562 mph). In 2008 at Sebring, Daskalos put his name on the World Challenge map by leading his first career series laps.
Tim McKenzie, of Madison, Wis., continued the trend of seeing new names toward the top of the time sheet, turning a 2:11.476 (101.311 mph) in his No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 to finish third on the day.
Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was fourth in his No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra, with a 2:11.480 (101.308 mph), followed by Tony Gaples, of Libertyville, Ill., who paced the early session in his No. 34 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette, and entered a 2:11.686 (101.149 mph) in the afternoon session.
Rob Morgan (Porsche 911 GT3), Brian Kubinski (Chevrolet Corvette), Tony Rivera (Porsche 911 GT3), Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3) and Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper), completed the top 10.
Defending series Champion Randy Pobst was absent from the time sheets as his brand new Volvo S60 experienced teething problems.
Qualifying for Friday’s Toyo Tires Season Opener of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship is scheduled for 11:55 a.m. (EDT) Thursday. For lap notes, live timing and scoring and all the news related to the weekend, visit www.world-challenge.com.
SEBRING, Florida - Combined practice times for Friday's Toyo Tires Season Opener, Round One of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship at Sebring International Raceway, part of the 57th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Fresh From Florida, with position, car number in parentheses, driver,
hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (30), Eric Curran, East Hampton, Mass., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:10.320, 102.210.
2, (5), Jason Daskalos, Albuquerque, N.M., Dodge Viper, 2:11.151, 101.562.
3, (66), Tim McKenzie, Madison, Wis., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:11.476, 101.311.
4, (10), Brandon Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:11.480, 101.308.
5, (34), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:11.686, 101.149.
6, (47), Rob Morgan, Costa Mesa, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:11.771, 101.084.
7, (12), Brian Kubinski, Shorewood, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:11.852, 101.022.
8, (97), Tony Rivera, Missouri City, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3, 2:11.855, 101.020.
9, (4), Dino Crescentini, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:11.951, 100.946.
10, (9), Gunter Schaldach, Aspen, Colo., Dodge Viper, 2:12.083, 100.845.
11, (31), Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:12.089, 100.841.
12, (56), Ritch Marziale, Tempe, Ariz., Dodge Viper, 2:12.320, 100.665.
13, (35), Andrew Aquilante, Phoenixville, Pa., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:12.737, 100.348.
14, (99), Jeff Courtney, Slinger, Wis., Dodge Viper, 2:12.932, 100.201.
15, (13), David Welch(R), Kirkland, Wash., Dodge Viper, 2:13.359, 99.880.
16, (05), William Ziegler(R), Jacksonville, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:15.560, 98.259.
17, (44), Lee Saunders, Lakeland, Fla., Dodge Viper, 2:15.564, 98.256.
18, (06), Joey Scarallo, Smithtown, N.Y., Pontiac GTO, 2:17.080, 97.169.
19, (2), Steve Valentinetti(G), Burien, Wash., Porsche GT3 Cup, 2:18.599, 96.104.
20, (24), Patrick Flanagan(G), Laguna Niguel, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 2:20.399, 94.872.
21, (7), Dan Pastorini(R), Houston, Texas, Lamborghini Gallardo, 2:25.898, 91.296.
22, (1), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, no time.
23, (6), Joe Foster, Lawrenceville, Ga., Lotus Exige S, no time.
24, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Volvo S60, no time.
25, (14), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, no time.