The first qualifying session of the season for Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup classes at Circuit of The Americas and the NISSAN Grand Prix of Texas brought to you by Motul is in the books. When the 45-minute session concluded the results found five different brands in the top five, and the top 10 qualifiers all within one second. Nicky Catsburg and Colin Thompson, will start on pole in GT and GT Cup respectively for this afternoon’s Round 1 race.
First to post a fast time in the session was the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S driven by Kevin Estre with a 2:04.497. Second quickest in the early going was Catsburg from in the No. 25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL2 posting a time of 2:04.695. Posting the third fast time early on was Mike Skeen in the No. 2 Hawk Performance CRP Racing Audi R8 ultra with a 2:05.114.
GTA newcomer Bryan Heitkotter in the Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT 3 was quite impressive in the early going moving into the fourth quickest position with a 2:05.390 then besting that with a 2:04.924. Ten minutes into the session Catsburg moved to the top with a 2:04.257 that would hold up for pole.
Quick throughout the weekend former F1 driver Olivier Beretta driving the No. 61 Ferrari of Ontario/Toronto/Alberta R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia posted a time of 2:04.374 to move to second quickest. Estre in his McLaren quickly answered with a 2:04.364 bumping Beretta down to third setting up a classic McLaren-Ferrari battle for today’s race.
In a strategic move with 20 minutes to go in the session, the Cadillacs of 2014 Drivers’ Champion Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim in their new for 2015 Cadillac ATS-VR GT3s took to the track. With the factory team using tactics to produce the best possible result with a clear track and fresh rubber the two pushed hard to complete the top 10 all within one second posting times of 2:05.17 and 2:05.255 respectively.
With the chief protagonists all having set times things settled down in the closing 15 minutes with only Ryan Dalziel setting a fast time to secure 4th on the grid with a 2:04.764.
As the checkers flew the top 5 for the Round 1 grid are Catsburg in the Lamborghini, Estre in the McLaren, Beretta in the Ferrari, Dalziel in the Porsche and Skeen in the Audi. GTA driver Heitkotter in the Nissan had the fastest lap in class and will start 6th overall on the grid.
The GT Cup presented by MOMO class found the No. 11 driven by Thompson, his Porsche of Bucks County/Penn Valley Constructors/Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes/Austin Hatcher Foundation, Kelly Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on top with a time of 2:10.055. Second fast was Alec Udell in his No. 17 GMG 911 with a fast time of 2:10.207. Rounding out the GT Cup top three was Sloan Urry in his Engel & Volkers, TruSpeed Autosport 911 with a lap of 2:10.769.
Today’s Round 1 race for GT/GTA/GTA will be streamed live starting at 2:50 p.m. Central at http://www.world-challengetv.com.