Pilgrim takes SPEED GT pole in New Jersey with ‘perfect’ lap
Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., captured his fourth-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT pole Friday with a lap he proclaimed “perfect” in preparation for Saturday’s Round Three race at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Teammate Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., will start second.
Driving the No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, Pilgrim captured the team’s second-consecutive pole with a fast time of 1:23.712 (96.760 mph), more than a second clear of the field.
“We’ve been doing a lot of these qualifying runs over the years and this was one of those rare occasions where you know it was an absolutely perfect lap,” Pilgrim said. “I was very surprised by the time. I hadn’t been close to that pace all weekend.”
The 10-minute qualifying session came less than 30 minutes after the conclusion of the final practice session of the weekend on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway circuit, and Pilgrim’s 3R Racing team spent the turnaround making wholesale changes on the car.
“We went with new tires in the practice session immediately before qualifying,” he said. “The car was a mid-25 car at best and I said to the crew ‘just throw anything at it. It’s pushing way too much on these new tires. Do anything you can, make a big change to get the car to oversteer.’ And they changed a lot of stuff and it worked. It really only gave me one lap. I went out again and I was a second and a half off of my first lap. It was just perfect for K-Pax Racing and Volvo.”
Following qualifying, Pilgrim won the World Challenge coin toss, meaning the grid would remain as they qualified for the race. If he would have chosen incorrectly, the top five would have inverted, as it did for Pobst at the previous Round in Long Beach, Calif.
Pobst’s time of 1:24.764 (95.559 mph) in the No. 1 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 was good for second on the grid. Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was third fastest in the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/SunMicro Ford Mustang Cobra, with a 1:25.517 (94.718 mph).
Defending race winner, and winner two weeks ago at Long Beach, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., was fourth fastest with a 1:25.517 (94.378 mph) in his No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Sebring winner Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, completed the top five with a 1:26.376 (93.776 mph) in his No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3.
Point leader Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette), Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper), Tony Gaples (Chevrolet Corvette), Sonny Whelen (Chevrolet Corvette) and Mike Hartley (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.