Pobst, Cunningham and Wittmer Set Qualifying Pace at Toronto
TORONTO, Canada (July 17, 2010) - Each will claim they love street races, and for Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Nick Wittmer, of Montreal, it's not a secret why - they're fast on them. The trio qualified Saturday morning on the pole for the afternoon's Acura Sports Car Challenge of Toronto in the GT, GTS and Touring Car classes, respectively, for the World Challenge Championships, part of the Honda Indy Toronto.
Pobst earned his sixth GT pole in seven races in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, turning a fast time of 1:14.583 (84.711) on his third of four laps during the short 10-minute session. His time was 0.678-second faster than his previous track record of 1:15.261 (83.947 mph), which he set in 2007 in a K-Pax Racing Porsche 911 GT3.
"I was more aggressive, because I think the traction and the conditions on the course are improving day by day," Pobst said. "Street courses are always like that. I had a sideways moment on the first lap, and kept getting faster. In qualifying, we don't have an ounce of anything extra, and I'm thrilled with this qualifying. Because of our weight, the race is going to get tighter as the race goes on, and it's going to be really interesting.
"I've been pushing our guys to really work on the brakes, because that was our problem at Watkins Glen. It's always an issue on the street courses, where you've got hard braking and higher loads, and that's my biggest concern right now."
Starting alongside Pobst on the front row is his teammate in the No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla. Pilgrim led late in the session after posting a lap of 1:14.670 (84.612 mph), until Pobst swept in to top the grid by 0.087-second. The result was much needed for Pilgrim, who is hoping to have solved some mechanical gremlins that have plagued he and his team over the last couple of races.
Like the combined practice sessions on Friday, three Porsches follow the Volvos on the starting grid. In qualifying, Patrick Lindsey led the trio of drivers with a best time of 1:14.961 (84.284 mph) in the No. 57 Horton/Sloan Securities Porsche 911 GT3. Lindsey's lap came on his second of four laps in the session and is his second-consecutive front row start.
Global Motorsports Group teammates James Sofronas and Dino Crescentini qualified fourth and fifth, respectively - the highest the pair have qualified since the opening two rounds on the streets of St. Petersburg. There, Crescentini qualified second and Sofronas third, with Sofronas taking a pair of podiums in the No. 4 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 and Crescentini winning the second race of the doubleheader weekend.
In GTS, Cunningham continues to set new World Challenge records. Already the Series' all-time wins leader with 35, his 37th career pole position moves him into sole possession of that record, breaking a tie shared with former Acura/RealTime Racing pilot Pierre Kleinubing.
Cunningham's lap of 1:20.924 (78.073 mph) in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX bested teammate Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., by 0.808-second.
"The track conditions were certainly at their best this morning, and we went faster than we have all weekend," Cunningham said. "The RealTime Acura was definitely hooked up. This afternoon is going to be hot, and with these conditions, we're going to have to bide our time and keep the tires underneath us. We'll hope for an all-green race and see what happens."
Esayian posted his best time in the No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX in his second lap of the combined GTS and Touring Car session with a time of 1:21.732 (77.301 mph). Turning that lap early became more important when the scheduled 10-minute session was stopped after eight minutes to remove the No. 22 303 Motorsports/Track Pro/Emich VW Volkswagen GTI Touring Car of Robb Holland, who made contact with the wall.
Chasing the two Acuras is the No. 91 Fuchs/CDOC/Forgeline Porscehe Cayman S of Ernie Jakubowski, who qualified third with a best time of 1:22.995 (76.125 mph).
The battle for the Touring Car pole went to the driver in class that has the most track time on the temporary circuit around Exhibition Place. Wittmer, driving the No. 93 HPD/HondaRacing/RealTime Honda Civic Si, turned a fast lap of 1:24.794 (74.510 mph) on his second lap of the session to post a time that would hold up against the Touring Car field.
In addition to his duties in World Challenge, Wittmer is driving a Canadian Touring Car Honda this weekend in his third weekend racing at the circuit.
"You have to get the lap in right away," Wittmer said. "The Honda Civic Si is amazing, thanks to RealTime Honda and HPD. I can't complain at all, the car is so neutral you can do whatever you want with it. All we did was check the tire pressures and put some new tires on it and we went a second and a half faster than yesterday, so we knew it was hooked up for sure.
"I like this track a lot. It's a Honda track for sure. Being in both cars this weekend gives me the track time, and I already know the track and am warmed up when I get in the World Challenge cars. I just adore this track."
Eric Meyer, of Indianapolis, earned his second-consecutive front row start after posting a time of 1:25.352 (74.022 mph) to trail Wittmer by 0.558-second. Meyer sits second in the Touring Car Championships in the No. 32 XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8.
Touring Car Championship leader Robert Stout qualified just behind Meyer with a time of 1:25.930 (73.525 mph) in the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC.
Sharing the second row with Stout is Brett Sandberg in the No. 28 Whitehall Stables Acura TSX. Sandberg, who trails just Stout and Meyer in the Drivers' Championship, posted a best time of 1:25.952 (73.506 mph) in the session.
Greg Shaffer qualified fifth in the No. 40 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hawk Volkswagen Jetta GLI with a time of 1:26.604 (72.952 mph).
The lights go out to start the Acura Sports Car Challenge of Toronto at 4:20 p.m. EDT for Round Seven of 12 in the World Challenge Championships season.
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