Johnny O'Connell and Andy Lee posted the fastest laps in GT and GTS, respectively, during Thursday's qualifying session for the Round 8 race of the Cadillac Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park. GT and GTS cars will take to the grid for the Round 8 race Friday at 12:10 p.m.
O'Connell, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing/Cadillac CTS-V.R claimed his fourth pole of the 2013 season after posting a time of 51.271 at 103.497 mph. His lap also eclipsed the previous Pirelli World Challenge qualifying lap record at Lime Rock Park that was set by Lou Gigliotti in 2005.
“It is hot out there today,” said O'Connell. “I have to hand it to Team Cadillac. We were fast right off of the trailer. They have a lot of data from here with all of the years that Corvette has run this track in the past. We had a very reasonable car right from the start.”
"I was using every bit of the road in qualifying and dirt tracking the car around here this afternoon," added O'Connell. "I dropped a wheel off at the exit of West Bend coming down the hill. I was pushing the Cadillac hard. Lime Rock is to road racing what Bristol is to NASCAR. Traffic is going to be difficult. I think whoever keeps a cool head and doesn't make mistakes will pull this one (Round 8) off.”
O'Connell's teammate Andy Pilgrim in the No. 8, Cadillac Racing/Cadillac CTS-V.R qualified second with a 51.358.
"That makes it a nice fourth of July with two American Cadillac CTS-Vs on the front row here at Lime Rock,” said O'Connell.
Mike Skeen in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette qualified third after posting a 51.664. Rounding out the top five in GT are Randy Pobst in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 who posted a 51.679 and Duncan Ende in the No. 24 STANDD.org/Merchant Services Audi R8 LMS who posted a 51.769.
James Sofronas qualified sixth in the No. 14 GMG/Swisher Racing/Mobil 1/Audi R8 LMS (51.849), ahead of Alex Figge in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 (52.062), Tim Pappas in the No. 54 Black Swan/Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 (52.139), Oliver Bryant in the No. 33 Fusion World Wide/Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3 (52.375). Rounding out the top 10 is Alex Welch in the No. 08 Spyder/Lasso/GMG/Audi R8 LMS (52.481).
In GTS, Andy Lee took the GTS class pole in the No. 20 Best IT/Bondurant/Crown Seven Chevrolet Camaro. It is Lee's fifth pole position of the 2013 season, set with a time of 55.036 seconds (96.416 mph) on his second lap of the 20-minute session.
"I didn't think it would come that early, but I knew the car was fast from practice," said Lee. "This pole is a combination of a lot of things. We have a great car, and the guys are working their tails off. We have qualifying down, it's the races (that have led to a) 50/50 season."
Lawson Aschenbach completed the Camaro 1-2. Aschenbach, driver of the No. 10 Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Camaro, had his best lap of 55.196. Class points leader Jack Baldwin in the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman S, lines up third with a best time of 55.390.
Mark Wilkins in the No. 38 KIA Motors America KIA Optima (55.492) and Steven Goldman in the No. 05 ZSA Motorsport & Trade Manage Porsche Cayman S (55.659) complete the top five on the grid.
Tom Long has the No. 60 LotusUSA/Taggart Autosport/LRR Lotus Exige sixth (55.660) ahead of the RealTime Racing teammates. Peter Cunningham lines up seventh in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX (55.967), with Nick Esayian eighth in the No. 34 HPD/Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX (56.456).
Robert Stout has taken the new Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil/E3 Spark Plug Scion FR-S up to ninth on the grid (56.924) with Aschenbach's teammate, Tony Gaples, 10th in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro (56.970).
Alec Udell in the No. 17 Motorsports Development Ford Mustang Boss 302R, had an engine change and will start from the rear of the GTS class field for Round 8 on Friday. Udell set the fastest lap in Round Six at Detroit, and finished on the podium in Round Seven there.
Round Eight is scheduled for tomorrow Friday, July 5 at 12:10 p.m. (EDT). Round Nine is scheduled for Saturday, July 6 at 10:35 a.m. (EDT).
All races will be streamed live at www.world-challengetv.com and then aired on the NBC Sports Network July 20 at 4 p.m. (EDT).