ST. PETERSBURG, FL, March 22, 2013 – Alex Figge, of Denver, Co., and Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Co., not only won Motul poles in GT and GTS respectively, but set new track records in the process of setting the grid for Race One in the Pirelli World Challenge St. Petersburg Sports Car Challenge Presented by StopTech. This Pirelli World Challenge event runs as part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Figge, driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing/Volvo S60, made a statement by smashing the previous class qualifying record of 1:15.071 (86.318 mph), set in 2011 by Patrick Long. Figgie set the new record at 1:13.967 (87.606mph) around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit. The lap put Figge just less than half a second ahead of his team mate and nearest competitor Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga. The all-Volvo front row may cause problems for the rest of the field on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
“We’re looking forward to the race. I think we’ve got a good car. Historically, we qualify a bit better than we race, but hopefully we can get a good start and use some traffic to our advantage and hopefully things go well.”
Ryan Dalziel, of Windermere, Fla., made an impressive debut in the Pirelli World Challenge, putting the No. 46 Privacy Star/ENTRUST/Porsche 911 GT3 on the inside of row two with a time of 1:14.737 (86.704 mph).
The No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1/Audi R8, driven by James Sofronas, will roll off the grid on the outside of row two. Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., clocked a time of 1:14.812 (86.617 mph). Sofronas bided his time in the session, setting his fast time on his 10th of 11 laps.
Defending Driver’s Champion Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., put his No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R on the inside of row three with a time of 1:15.237 (86.127 mph).
Lee, driving the No. 20 Best IT/Chevrolet Camaro, blew past the GTS track record of 1:21.936 (79.086 mph) set in 2011 by Eric Foss driving a Ford Mustang FR500S. Lee set the new record at 1:20.778 (80.219 mph), and looks to carry the momentum into Saturday’s race after a runner-up finish in 2012.
“It’s a big first step, and totally unexpected as well,” Lee said. “There’s something about St. Petersburg that goes well with our car and our team, and for me, I guess. We were on pole last year, and that was our first pole in World Challenge, so it’s just nice to be back up here. Hopefully we can make it stick this time.”
Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., found himself near the top of the GTS standings once again, flirting with earning the class pole, but Lee had his number by 0.127 seconds. Baldwin put in a lap of 1:20.905 (80.094 mph) in his No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Invoice Prep/Porsche Cayman S and will start on the outside of row one.
The No. 16 Porsche Cayman S driving by Kevin Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., will take the green flag right behind Lee on the inside of row two. Gleason posted a time of 1:21.169 (79.833 mph).
Lawson Aschenbach, of Jupiter, Fla., starts his 2013 campaign for the GTS championship starting on the outside of row two, setting a time of 1:21.203 (79.612 mph). The two-time Pirelli World Challenge Champion pilots the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop/Chevrolet Camaro.
Seven-time champion Peter Cunningham will start fifth in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing/Acura TSX. Cunningham’s with a time of 1:21.394 (79.612 mph).
Round One of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships take the green flag in a rolling start at 5:00 pm (EDT). Race Two the green lights turn on for a standing start March 24 at 10:25 am (EDT). The race will be streamed live online at www.world-challgetv.com. More information on the series can be found at www.world-challenge.com or on twitter @WCRacing.