Kuno and Nick Wittmer, both of Montreal, became the first brother tandem to each win their class pole position in the same World Challenge race, topping GT and Touring Car qualifying, respectively, for Sunday afternoon's Toyo Tires World Challenge at Long Beach Presented by Bondurant. Rookie Tyler McQuarrie, of Walnut Creek, Calif., will start first in the GTS class in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend-closing event.
Driving the No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper, Kuno Wittmer turned a record-setting lap of 1:24.971 (83.379 mph) around the famed 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit to earn his first-ever pole position in the World Challenge GT Class. He previously earned two poles in the Touring Car class.
The lap broke the previous qualifying record of 1:25.068 (83.266 mph) set by Ron Fellows in 2007 driving a Cadillac CTS-V.
"The Woodhouse Performance Dodge team did a great job on this Viper," Kuno Wittmer said. "It was another late night last night. They've worked really hard on making this car go fast. My hat's off to them, I'm only a percentage of this equation. The team did a great job, and we're really happy. I don't know if it was the temperature, but the morning session had some nice, brisk air and you could feel the V-10 intake just breathing everything."
The elder Wittmer brother was predictably excited to be only half of the family success story in qualifying.
"We've both come a long way from Montreal, and we're in Southern California where there's barely any Canadians," he said. "It feels good. It's a family affair, and really exciting."
Wittmer, who led practice, had to work until lap five to eclipse the early time of 2009 polesitter Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and his No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60. When he finally did, it was by the slimmest of margins, just 0.05sec.
Defending series champion and 2008 race winner Brandon Davis, of nearby Huntington Beach, was third fastest in the No. 1 Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang GT after turning a fast time of 1:25.277 (83.080 mph). Pobst's teammate Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., was fourth in the No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, followed by Davis' teammate Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., in the No. 3 Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang GT.
Making his World Challenge series debut, Formula Drift star McQuarrie proved he can cross over to road racing by placing his No. 19 LPL/DRS/Switcars/LCS/Dayco/M&T Lotus Exige S on the pole for the new-for-2010 GTS class. McQuarrie's team was forced to replace a transmission in his car after Saturday's practice, but the change was successful and his time of 1:31.457 (77.466 mph) established a new GTS class record.
"To come in here with this car that they bought five weeks ago, these guys at LPL and DRS have been thrashing on this thing," McQuarrie said. "There's been some long nights, and there's no better way to thank these guys than to go out and get pole. To get pole by two seconds is just insane. I knew we had a little bit left, but we changed the gearbox yesterday back to the stock gearbox and I think it's actually better for here. It's just unreal.
"The whole month of April at Long Beach is special, in my opinion. It's like the month of May at Indy. To be here last week drifting in the premier drift series and qualifying second there, and then coming this weekend to race at Long Beach – I've always wanted to race here. I've been here as a spectator for so long and never raced here. To be able to do it and get pole is so awesome."
Point leader Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., was second fastest in GTS in his No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX with a time of 1:33.422 (75.837 mph). Teammate Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., was third in the No. 34 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX with a 1:34.761 (74.765 mph).
Michael Pettiford, of Louisville, Colo., was fourth in GTS with a 1:36.201 (73.646 mph) in the No. 41 GO4IT Racing Schools/Hawk Chevrolet Corvette. Gary Tolar, of Corona, Calif., will start fifth in the No. 86 GMG/GT Racing LLC Porsche 996.
Charles Espenlaub, of Lutz, Fla., qualified the No. 03 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/ProParts MAZDA3 sixth in GTS, subbing for Patrick Dempsey, who was unable to make the session due to Grey's Anatomy filming commitments. Espenlaub will be on hand for the race if Dempsey is unable to make it back to Long Beach in time.
Making just his third-series appearance, Nick Wittmer, younger brother of Kuno, earned his first-ever World Challenge pole and the first pole for the brand new No. 93 Honda Racing/HPD Honda Civic Si in World Challenge Touring Car competition. Wittmer turned a fastest time of 1:36.938 (73.086 mph).
"It's a brand-new car, this is the first track that's seen this car," Nick Wittmer said. "It was built by Honda Performance Development, and right out of the box the car is wonderful. You've got the brakes, you've got the handling. Everything you want is there. There are no issues at all, I can't complain about the car. This is my first time here, so back in practice two days ago I was actually learning the track. I got better and better, and in qualifying I wrapped up the pole. The car is there, 100 percent, and RealTime Racing and HPD did a great job of preparing the car.
"It's very cool to share the pole with Kuno, I think my dad's going crazy back at home right now, jumping up and down. We're really both happy with this, and my brother in GT is a very big deal. I'm happy for him, and I'm happy for us, too. We didn't expect this, but it's great to have it."
Robert Stout, of Brownsburg, Ind., qualified second in the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC with a fastest lap time of 1:37.177 (72.906 mph). Eric Meyer, of Indianapolis, Ind., was third fastest with a 1:37.724 (72.498 mph) in his No. 32 XOWii/Samaritan's Feet/Delvira Mazda RX-8.
Dan Gardner, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was fourth in the No. 36 DG Spec/Scion/TRD/Lepper&Assoc Scion tC, followed by Tommy Chen, of Pasadena, Calif., in his No. 08 Autoworld/Speed Trial USA Mazda RX-8.