On a Friday afternoon that saw a mix of heavy rains and sunshine, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge took to the track in mixed conditions to qualify for Saturday’s Continental Tire 120 at Watkins Glen International.
In the Grand Sport (GS) class, Paul Holton in the No. 76 C360R McLaren GT4 posted the fast time of the session at one minute, 57.578 seconds, crushing the previous GS record of 2:00.514 set by Scott Maxwell one year ago.
The pole was also Holton’s second in a row after setting the fastest time at Circuit of The Americas in May. He and co-driver Matt Plumb went on to win that race to give McLaren its first GT4 win in sports car competition.
“We’ve had a lot of time to go testing and we show up to these races now very, very prepared,” said Holton. “We end up just fine tuning the car instead of making wholesale setup changes. I think Matt and I are both able to get the absolute most out of the car at the moment and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Just prior to Holton’s record lap, Nick Galante in the No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman set one of his own in the Street Tuner (ST) class, with a lap of 2:07.583, which was .17 seconds faster than the previous record set by Marc Miller in 2014.
Watkins Glen has treated the Greenfield, Mass. native well over the last two years as Galante recorded his first Continental Tire Challenge series win here last year and Friday’s pole was his first in the series as well.
“We went out there and the car was great,” said Galante, whose team is debuting a livery featuring the Racing to End Alzheimer’s foundation. “It was still a little slick at first, but I kept my foot down and drove the dry line and used all the curbs. I noticed a lot of the drivers were staying away from the curbs because they were still wet, but I just drove right on them and didn’t affect the car at all. To also get the pole position with the debut of our new foundation, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s, it’s awesome.”
The Continental Tire 120 goes green Saturday, July 1 at 2:25 p.m. ET. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.com with IMSA Radio commentary.