Cooper and Francis Jr. get Pirelli World Challenge poles at Toronto

Cooper and Francis Jr. get Pirelli World Challenge poles at Toronto

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

Cooper and Francis Jr. get Pirelli World Challenge poles at Toronto

By

Defending TC Drivers’ Champion Michael Cooper of Syosset, NY, in the No. 1 Atlanta Motorsports Group Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 and Ernie Francis Jr., of Davie, FL, in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda 2 will start on pole for their respective classes for TC/TCB Round 7 as part of the Acura Sports Car Challenge, at the Honda Indy 200 at Toronto.

In an exciting 20-minute TC qualifying session that saw multiple fast laps set by five different drivers, Cooper vaulted to the top of the chart with under one minute remaining in the session posting a 1:22.125. Then before the checkered flew, Cooper unleashed an even quicker lap with a 1:21.939. It’s Cooper’s eighth career pole in Pirelli World Challenge. The pole was an impressive feat given Cooper has no experience at the track and had only turned a couple of laps in the morning practice due to mechanical issues.

“This morning (in practice) we found out we had a nipple broken off the turbo system,” said Cooper. “So we went out there and the two laps we got weren’t very good, but at least I got to see what the track looked like. It’s just amazing to go out with no practice and by the end of the session I had one minute to go and one more lap to hit, to make sure I had a clean track. And I just put one in.”

“I love the street courses,” added Cooper. “It really makes you find the limit. You gotta put your stuff on the line here.”

Canadian Tom Kwok, of Markham, ON in the No. 89 M&S Racing Honda Civic Si posted a 1:22.141 for second. TC drivers’ points leader Ryan Winchester, of Mason City, IA, in the No. 72 Compass360 Racing/Ligon/Industries/HPD/Honda Civic Si posted a 1:22.176 for third on the starting grid.

Rounding out the top 5 are Remo Ruscitti, of Vancouver, BC, in the No. 71 Compass360 Racing/Ultimate Racing/HPD/Honda Civic Si (1:22.354) and Brett Sandberg, of Allendale, NJ, in the No. 70 Compass360 Racing/GearTie.com/HPD/Honda Civic Si (1:22.361)

In TCB, Francis Jr. will start on pole after posting a fast lap of 1:32.186. Joel Lipperini, of Pittston, PA in the No. 81 RaceLabz Honda Fit posted a time of 1:32.413 to qualify second. Robbie Davis, TCB drivers’ points leader heading into Toronto, posted a 1:32.727.

“The day started out pretty well. Got third this morning (in practice). Robbie laid down a momentous time in practice that was going to be hard to beat. Qualified with a fresh mind, tried to hit every apex I could, went out and got the pole,” said Francis Jr.

“I’m really liking these street courses,” added Francis Jr. “I had a little bit of experience from St. Petersburg. Now I’m just trying to get used to it again.”

Davis, of Dallas, TX, driving the No. 37 MINI of Charleston Racing MINI Cooper leads the TCB Drivers’ Championship with 627 points over Ernie Francis Jr. with 596. Lipperini currently sits fourth overall in the championship with 514 points.

Rounding out the top 5 are David Alejandro, of Pembrook Pines, FL, in the No. 99 Breathless Performance Mazda 2 with a 1:33.271 for fourth, and Torontonian PJ Groenke in the No. 66 Shea Racing Honda Fit with a 1:33.531 for fifth.

Round 7 of the TC/TCB Championship takes the green flag at 12:50pm tomorrow. Both Round 7 and the Round 8 race that follows are 20-minute races, and will be live streamed on www.world-challengetv.com.

TORONTO, Canada – Starting lineup for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge Championship TC/TCB Round 7 race,  part of the Acura Sports Car Challenge, at the Honda Indy 200 at Toronto, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour. Results are provisional.

1, TC, (1), Michael Cooper, Syosset, N.Y., Mazda3, 1:21.939, 77.106.
2, TC, (89), Tom Kwok, Markham, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 1:22.141, 76.916.
3, TC, (72), Ryan Winchester, Mason City, Iowa, Honda Civic Si, 1:22.176, 76.883.
4, TC, (71), Remo Ruscitti(R), Vancouver, Calif., Honda Civic Si, 1:22.354, 76.717.
5, TC, (70), Brett Sandberg, Allendale, N.J., Honda Civic Si, 1:22.361, 76.711.
6, TC, (68), Jon Miller, Orlando, Fla., Honda Civic Si, 1:22.431, 76.646.
7, TC, (76), Damon Sharpe, Tottenham,   , Honda Civic, 1:23.401, 75.754.
8, TC, (90), Gary Kwok, Markham, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 1:23.780, 75.411.
9, TC, (91), Jonathan Young, Richmond, Ontario, Honda Civic Si, 1:24.485, 74.782.
10, TC, (47), Alain Lauziere(R), Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Mini Cooper S JCW, 1:24.604, 74.677.

1, TCB, (98), Ernie Francis_Jr(R), Davie, Fla., Mazda2, 1:32.186, 68.535.
2, TCB, (81), Joel Lipperini, Pittston, Pa., Honda Fit, 1:32.413, 68.367.
3, TCB, (37), Robbie Davis, Dallas, Texas, Mini Cooper, 1:32.727, 68.135.
4, TCB, (99), David Alejandro(R), Pembrook Pines, Fla., Mazda2, 1:33.271, 67.738.
5, TCB, (66), P J Groenke, Toronto, Ontario, Honda Fit, 1:33.531, 67.549.
6, TCB, (2), Ernie Francis(R), Davis, Fla., Mazda2, 1:33.675, 67.446.
7, TCB, (67), Shea Holbrook, Groveland, Fla., Honda Fit, 1:33.955, 67.245.
8, TCB, (22), Chris Capaldi(R), Armada, Mich., Ford Fiesta, 1:34.949, 66.541.
9, TCB, (78), Jim Cleveland(R), Queensland Australia,   , Fiat 500, 1:36.856, 65.230.
10, TCB, (77), Fernando Seferlis(R), Panama,   , Honda Fit, 1:38.264, 64.296.
11, TCB, (65), Brian Fowler(R), Weston, Fla., Ford Fiesta, 1:38.430, 64.187.

More SCCA / SportsCar Magazine