Patrick Long Takes Pirelli World Challenge GT Pole; Cunningham Extends Career Record
Apr. 27, 2012 - TOOELE, Utah. - Patrick Long, of Belleaire, Fla., grabbed the Pirelli World Challenge pole in the GT class on Friday at Miller Motorsports Park with a flying lap late in the session to start the Privacy Star Utah Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant from the lead position. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., extended his series career best pole record to 47 with the top time in the GTS class.
Patrick Long celebrates the Pirelli World Challenge pole (Weber photo)
Long waited until there was a gap in traffic around the 14-turn, 3.048-mile Outer Course configuration and laid down a lap of 1:50.834 (99.002 mph) in his No. 1 Privacy Star/Entrust/Truspeed Porsche 911 GT3.
The defending GT Drivers’ Champion is piloting the car normally driven by Lawson Aschenbach, who is missing the Round Four race for a prior commitment.
“It was hard to get a clear lap in the second practice session today, so I didn’t know what I have – but I never know what a few of the key players of our competition have until qualifying,” Long said. “I threw a different spin on it. The car just kept getting better as I went on. The front tires came in and it was hooked up. It was one of those weekends where qualifying just clicks. Hopefully we can back it up in the race.
“We came off the trailer fast, but a lap time is not what I’m always aiming for in practice. I want a car that’s always consistent on a race run. We put our heart and soul into it – these mechanics have changed everything three times, that’s a good and bad thing when you have a lot of track time. I’m just happy for TruSpeed, Privacy Star and Entrust and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Johnny O’Connell took just two laps to post a time of 1:51.358 (98.536 mph) in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V and pulled to pit lane to wait out the 20-minute session. For a while, it looked like the time would hold up, but Long’s late-session run leaves O’Connell on the outside of row one for Saturday’s race.
Randy Pobst will start Saturday on the inside of row two after qualifying third in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60. Pobst turned a lap of 1:51.463 (98.443 mph) to start next to Andy Pilgrim’s No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V after Pilgrim’s lap of 1:51.533 (98.381 mph).
James Sofronas qualified fifth in the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 with a time of 1:51.769 (98.174 mph).
Cunningham added to the series’ pole record with a lap of 2:00.108 (91.357 mph) in the No. 1 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX to top the GTS class qualifying. Cunningham turned just two laps before parking in pit lane and watching the time tick away on the 20-minute session.
“Here at Utah you have to hit your marks pretty good, and you have to have the tires just warm enough, so I took a whole lap to warm up,” Cunningham said of his strategy. “My second lap, I just tried to hit all of my marks and put it together and it worked out.
“This pole is a tribute to the RealTime guys because they had to really bust their rumps to get the engine changed in my teammate Nick’s [Esayian] car. From the last practice session they had an hour and 40 minutes to get the thing changed out and Nick made the grid for qualifying and didn’t have any problems. This one’s for the RealTime crew and their effort.”
Jack Baldwin, the GTS class Round Three winner at Long Beach, will make the standing start from the outside of the GTS front row on Saturday afternoon. Baldwin’s No. 68 Hot Wheels/Invoice Prep Porsche Cayman lapped the circuit in 2:00.474 (91.080 mph) to fall just short of Cunningham’s time.
Michael Galati will start on the inside of row two after qualifying third in the No. 36 Infinity Audio/Kia Motors America Kia Optima with a time of 2:00.896 (90.762 mph). Next to Galati is a fourth different manufacturer in the first two rows after Andy Lee posted a time of 2:00.918 (90.745 mph) in the No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro.
Galati’s teammate Colin Braun, who finished third at Long Beach, qualified fifth with a time of 2:00.978 (90.700 mph) in the No. 38 Infinity Audio/Kia Motors America Kiat Optima.
The Privacy Star Utah Grand Prix presented by Bondurant will start at 2:50 p.m. MDT on Saturday afternoon.
More information is available at www.world-challenge.com. Follow Pirelli World Challenge on Twitter @WCRacing.