Sofronas Wins World Challenge GT Pole at Road America
ELKAHRT LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 15, 2009) - James Sofronas only needed one perfect lap around Road America to earn his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT pole of the season. Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec, will start second for Sunday's Round Eight Race, the Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech, part of the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase weekend.
Leading the field onto the 14-turn, four-mile course for a 20-minute qualifying session, Sofronas could quickly tell that he had a pole-worthy car underneath him.
"I was up front, so it was nice and peaceful," Sofronas said. "I just led the parade out and did my own pace. I tried to keep the tires really cool, because they can heat up quick over this long track. Then, I started getting heat in them in the Carousel and I thought 'wow, this car is really sticking,' so the confidence started to build.
"I nailed the last corner and realized I was shifting a lot earlier than I was yesterday and I thought 'this is it.' Then I noticed Tony Rivera shut the gap on me by about five car lengths and I got a little discouraged for a second. Going into Turn Five, I broke at the three marker, which is the first time I've done that all weekend. I could tell the StopTech brakes were going to be there and they just stuck. From there, I totally pulled away from Tony. In the Kink, I tracked out totally to the outside edge and again I was thinking, 'wow, we're on a good lap here.'"
In the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3, Sofronas stopped the clock with a 2:15.860 (107.263 mph) to earn his second pole of the season.
"When I came through, I wasn't expecting that time," Sofronas said. "It's amazing how important the corners are here for getting a good run onto the straights. The Porsches have good traction, so that definitely helped. It was a perfect lap, so I just parked it, because I'd never be able to do that lap again"
In the post-qualifying coin toss, Sofronas correctly called heads to prevent the top five on the grid from inverting. The Long Beach race winner is relying on a strong start and consistent laps to collect his second win of 2009 in Sunday morning's 50-minute race.
"The Porsche launches pretty good," Sofronas said. "If I can get a good start and establish a position, hopefully the Viper [of second-starting Kuno Wittmer] will be really wide behind me. If he's faster than me, we'll let it play out during the race. Kuno [Wittmer] is a great driver. He's proven himself in the Touring Car ranks and now he's proving himself in GT. It'll take a hell of a launch and me pulling some perfect laps to establish a performance level in the race and get a nice rhythm. You can't make any mistakes at Road America in the Porsche. If you lose any momentum, you're a dead duck on the straighaway, so that'll be the key here."
Making his World Challenge GT debut this weekend, Touring Car ace Wittmer qualified the No. 13 Woodhouse Performance Dodge Viper second with a lap of 2:16.051 (107.112 mph).
Piloting the No. 97 Tax Masters/Brass Monkey Racing Porsche 911 GT3, Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas, turned an identical time to Wittmer in qualifying. Per the SCCA Pro Racing rules, Wittmer was awarded the second spot for having a quicker second-fastest lap. Rivera will start third.
Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., will start fourth in the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra. The current point leader entered a qualifying time of 2:16.378 (106.856 mph).
Eric Curran, of Easthampton, Mass., completed the top five. Curran turned a 2:17.070 (106.316 mph) in the No. 30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette.
Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3) qualified sixth followed by the Volvo S60s of Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim.
Mike Borkowski (Dodge Viper) and Gunter Schaldach (Porsche 911 GT3) completed the top 10.
The GT portion of the Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech will launch from a standing start, Sunday, Aug. 16, at 9:35 a.m. (CDT). Live timing, lap notes and streaming audio are available at www.world-challenge.com.
The series is also on Twitter @ SPEEDWC.