ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 1, 2006) – Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, will start from the pole for today’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after posting Saturday afternoon’s quick time of 1:17.796 (83.294 mph) in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette C6. Defending race winner Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., will start second.-30-
Gigliotti wasted no time in taking the top spot on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course, setting a new SPEED GT qualifying record on his first flying lap. The pole is the 24th of Gigliotti’s career and the first since Gigliotti started and finished first at Infineon Raceway last season.
“I’m still a low-bucks effort and we practice on the tires we ran in the last race,” Gigliotti said of his Toyo Tires. “We warm up and put new ones on and the first lap is so fast. If you have the trust in them, they really fly.
“I flat-spotted my right front tire. I was practicing late-braking in to one. I hit a bump and the right front locked. I pumped it and got the tire just to hook close to the apex—not even there, but close. After that I just started driving hard. I went down the back straight and my lap predictor was just solid black in the good side.”
While he was the fastest for one lap, Gigliotti, who has seven race wins on street and other temporary courses in his racing career, said that finishing first at the end of this afternoon’s 33-lap, 59.4-mile race would take a much different strategy.
“I’ve always like street courses,” Gigliotti said. “One thing I’m not sure of is doing 33 laps here. We will have to be running 1:20s and 21s in order to make it 33 laps because of the heat. When that’s an issue, I always run really hard for the first 15 percent of the race and settle into a pace. Then, in the last 15 percent, it’s time to go hard again to the finish.”
Archer, who was third on the St. Petersburg grid in 2005 before darting to the front on the opening lap en route to the victory, will start on the outside of the first row after posting a 1:18.390 (82.664 mph) in his No. 5 c3controls/Autohaus Dodge Viper SRT.
Rookie Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., will make his St. Petersburg race debut on the second row, where he’ll start third after running a time of 1:18.390 (82.456 mph) in the No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3.
Team Cadillac driver Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., will start fourth in the No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V, and Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., will begin fifth in the No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6.
The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT race is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. (EST). The race will be broadcast Sunday, April 2, at 3 p.m. (EDT).
To follow the action live, visit www.world-challenge.com, and click on the SCCA Pit Board to view the race via Live Timing and Scoring Presented by SRT and minute-by-minute session notes.
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