JOLIET, Ill. (July 25, 2009) – James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., captured the pole position for Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop—the first of his career, and will lead the field at the standing start for the race, part of the Harrah’s Autobahn Grand Prix Presented by Mazda. Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., will start second.
Driving the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3, Sofronas ran the fastest World Challenge GT time of the weekend on his first flying lap, a 2:26.960 (87.207 mph), around the 18-turn, 3.56-mile circuit. While a pole was inevitable for Sofronas, who is having a career season and is currently second in points, anyone but Pobst on the pole was a surprise. His No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 owned the top of the time sheets heading into qualifying.
“I thought I knew what the pole time was going to be, but I didn’t think it was going to be a Porsche, so this is a pleasant surprise,” Sofronas said. “We thought the all-wheel drive Volvos were going to be the team to beat, but I think our setup was just that much better and it was cool this morning so the track wasn’t as greasy as yesterday. I think this is a good Porsche track.
“I didn’t know what my lap was going to be, but I looked down coming out of the last corner and saw that I was at 2:20-flat and thought, ‘wow, this is going to be a sick lap,’ and then it ticked off just under 2:27. It’s a great feeling, because the GMG guys have been working hard all weekend. This is good timing to get the points and win the coin toss and we’re really happy about that.”
Sofronas credited his time improvement to the analysis of data with teammate Dino Crescentini. He noted that Crescentini had been faster through the first half of the track on Friday, something Sofronas worked on in qualifying.
“The first half is all point-and-shoot. It’s about getting the power down and getting out of the corner. It’s almost like a miniature autocross. I think the way the rear-engine can get the power down out of the corners is a real advantage here. Now we have to work on a race setup which is totally different than a qualifying setup.”
Pobst was disappointed with his time in qualifying, a 2:27.165 (87.086 mph), which was a tick off of his previous best on the weekend. He noted that the team made a change in the session and he was working on a pole lap, but had a bobble that cost him time in the end.
Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, qualified in the top five for the first time since New Jersey, placing his No. 97 Tax Masters/Brass Monkey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 third on the grid with a 2:27.260 (87.029 mph).
New Jersey winner Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., was fourth in the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 with a fast time of 2:27.458 (86.912 mph). Crescentini, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., qualified his No. 4 Stoptech/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 fifth after turning a fast time of 2:27.868 (86.671 mph).
With rear-engine Porsches and all-wheel-drive Volvos occupying the top five spots, the course has proved to be challenging for cars without the engine sitting over the driven wheels. Point leader Brandon Davis (Ford Mustang), Eric Curran (Chevrolet Corvette), Gunter Schaldach (Dodge Viper), Brian Kubinski (Chevrolet Corvette) qualified sixth through ninth.
Tim McKenzie (Porsche 911 GT3) completed the top 10.
Sunday’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop makes its standing start at 3:10 p.m. (CDT). Follow live timing, lap notes and streaming audio at www.world-challenge.com. The race will be broadcast Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED.
Follow World Challenge on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SPEEDWC.
Attached: James Sofronas flies over “The Jump” at Autobahn Country Club.
Credit: Mark Weber/SCCA
JOLIET, Ill. - Starting lineup for Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Grand Prix at Autobahn Presented by Blackdog Speed Shop Round Six race, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1, (14), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:26.960, 87.207.
2, (1), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 2:27.165, 87.086.
3, (97), Tony Rivera, Missouri City, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3, 2:27.260, 87.029.
4, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Volvo S60, 2:27.458, 86.912.
5, (4), Dino Crescentini, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:27.868, 86.671.
6, (10), Brandon Davis, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford Mustang Cobra, 2:28.667, 86.206.
7, (30), Eric Curran, Easthampton, Mass., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:28.834, 86.109.
8, (9), Gunter Schaldach, Aspen, Colo., Dodge Viper, 2:29.408, 85.778.
9, (12), Brian Kubinski, Shorewood, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:29.953, 85.466.
10, (66), Tim McKenzie, Madison, Wis., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:30.165, 85.346.
11, (47), Rob Morgan, Costa Mesa, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:30.171, 85.342.
12, (34), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:30.594, 85.103.
13, (05), William Ziegler(R), Jacksonville, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3, 2:30.630, 85.082.
14, (71), Spencer Pumpelly, Suwanee, Ga., Mercedes-Benz SLR 722 GT, 2:31.311, 84.699.
15, (99), Jeff Courtney, Slinger, Wis., Dodge Viper, 2:31.324, 84.692.
16, (31), Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet Corvette, 2:31.786, 84.434.
17, (007), Nick Mancuso(R), Lake Bluff, Ill., Aston Martin DB9, 2:32.160, 84.227.
18, (46), Charles Morgan, Dallas, Texas, Posche 911 GT3, 2:32.639, 83.962.
19, (69), Galen Bieker(R)(G), Burbank, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 2:33.664, 83.402.
20, (25), Robert Rodriguez(R)(G), Burbank, Calif., Porsche GT3 Cup, 2:35.519, 82.408.
21, (23), Mike Borkowski, Miami Beach, Fla., Dodge Viper, no time.