ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 10, 2018) – Gabriele Piana of Italy piloted his No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR sports car to a new Pirelli World Challenge GTS provisional qualifying track record Saturday morning in the streets of St. Petersburg in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s GTS Round 1 50-minute sprint event.
Piana, 31, is making his Pirelli World Challenge debut this weekend and has dominated practice and qualifying rounds thus far at St. Pete in the 28-driver field. The veteran European racer was part of the winning GT4 team in last year’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
Piana’s provisional qualifying mark of one minute, 18.454 seconds (82.59 miles per hour) easily bettered the mark set last year by GTS series champion Lawson Aschenbach of 1:18.855 (82.17 m.p.h.) and established him as the favorite in Saturday’s Round 1 event set for 5:05 p.m. EST.
“Qualifying was a rather weird session with a lot of interruptions and stoppages,” said Piana. “There wasn’t a lot of time to get a rhythm, but we were able to get a clean lap. For the race, I’m pretty confident but I don’t know what our car will do overall. We didn’t get a chance to run a race pace with all of the red flags. The starts and restarts will be the key for us today in the race as our car isn’t the fastest on the straightaway. But I think we will be pretty good.”
James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., the 2017 PWC GTA and GT SprintX Pro-Am champion, collected the other front row starting position in Saturday’s GTS 50-minute race. The veteran racer recorded a time of 1:18.553 (82.49 m.ph.) in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 machine.
Rounding the second row of the GTS starting lineup are multi-time GTS race winner Jade Buford of Nashville, Tenn., in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 at 1:18.598 (82.44 m.p.h.) and Aschenbach, the five-time PWC series titleholder from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R at 1:18.664 (82.37 m.p.h.)
The top four GTS qualifiers broke Aschenbach’s old GTS St. Pete qualifying mark Saturday.
Fifth overall in GTS qualifying and first in the GTSA division was defending GTSA series champion George Kurtz of Paradise Valley, Ariz., with a clocking of 1:19.150 (81.86 m.p.h.) in the CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS followed by Drew Staveley of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 at 1:19.317 (81.69 m.p.h.), Mike Hedlund of Redwood City, Calif., in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS at 1:19.348 (81.66 m.p.h.), Vinnie Allegretta of the Hamptons, N.Y., in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 at 1:19.579 (81.42 m.p.h.) and Toby Grahovec of Celina, Tex., in the No. 26 Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 at 1:19.642 (81.36 m.p.h.)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Provisional Results from GTS/GTSA Qualifying sessions of the Pirelli World Challenge at the Firebird GP of St. Petersburg on March 10, 2018. All results are provisional until posted Final.
Pos,PIC,Class,Name,Hometown,Car,Laps,Status,Fastest Lap Time,Fastest Lap Avg. Speed
1,1, Pro,Gabriele PIANA,Lugano,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,9,Not Running,1:18.454,82.5
2,2, Pro,James SOFRONAS,Villa Park, CA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,8,Not Running,1:18.553,82.4
3,3, Pro,Jade BUFORD,Nashville, TN,Ford Mustang GT4,6,Not Running,1:18.598,82.4
4,4, Pro,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Palm Beach Gardens, FL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,6,Not Running,1:18.664,82.3
5,1, Am,George KURTZ,Paradise Valley, CA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,8,Not Running,1:19.150,81.8
6,2, Am,Drew STAVELEY,Salt Lake City, UT,Ginetta G55,6,Not Running,1:19.317,81.6
7,3, Am,Mike HEDLUND,Redwood City, CA,Audi R8 LMS GT4,7,Not Running,1:19.348,81.6
8,5, Pro,Vinnie ALLEGRETTA,Hamptons, NY,Ford Mustang GT4,4,Not Running,1:19.579,81.4
9,4, Am,Toby GRAHOVEC,Celina, TX,BMW M4 GT4,8,Not Running,1:19.642,81.3
10,6, Pro,Jason BELL,Tampa, FL,Audi R8 LMS GT4,9,Not Running,1:19.888,81.1
11,7, Pro,Shane LEWIS,Jupiter, FL,Mercedes Benz GT4,8,Not Running,1:19.934,81.0
12,8, Pro,Nate STACY,Owasso, OK,Ford Mustang GT4,9,Not Running,1:19.937,81.0
13,5, Am,Tony GAPLES,Libertyville, IL,Chevrolet Camaro GT4,8,Not Running,1:19.939,81.0
14,6, Am,Jeff COURTNEY,Milwaukee, WI,Maserati Grand Turismo MC GT4,9,Not Running,1:19.967,81.0
15,7, Am,Mark KLENIN,Lone Tree, CO,McLaren 570S GT4,8,Not Running,1:20.020,80.9
16,8, Am,Preston CALVERT,Potomac, MD,Panoz Avezzano GT4,7,Not Running,1:20.038,80.9
17,9, Pro,Harry GOTTSACKER,New Braunfels, TX,SIN R1,8,Not Running,1:20.117,80.8
18,10, Pro,Ian JAMES,Paradise Valley, AZ,Panoz Avezzano GT4,7,Not Running,1:20.117,80.8
19,9, Am,Marko RADISIC,Belgrade,BMW M4 GT4,8,Not Running,1:20.244,80.7
20,10, Am,Adam MERZON,Greenwich, CT,Audi R8 LMS GT4,8,Not Running,1:20.356,80.6
21,11, Am,James PESEK,Harrisonville, MO,Ford Mustang GT4,7,Not Running,1:20.780,80.2
22,12, Am,Justin RAPHAEL,Franklin Lakes, NJ,BMW M4 GT4,7,Not Running,1:21.183,79.8
23,11, Pro,Orey FIDANI,Etobicoke, ON,Porsche Cayman GT4 CS-MR,8,Not Running,1:21.448,79.5
24,12, Pro,Gar ROBINSON,San Antonio, TX,Mercedes Benz GT4,8,Not Running,1:21.713,79.3
25,13, Am,Frank GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,Ginetta G55,7,Not Running,1:22.650,78.4
26,14, Am,Chris OHMACHT,Franklin Lakes, NJ,BMW M4 GT4,7,Not Running,1:22.954,78.1
27,15, Am,Steve BURNS,Park City, UT,Ginetta G55,7,Not Running,1:24.949,76.2
28,16, Am,Fred ROBERTS,Toronto, ON,Maserati Grand Turismo MC GT4,1,Not Running,,