Italy’s Daniel Mancinelli came back from a Friday crash to take the Pirelli World Challenge GT pole position at Road America for Saturday’s 50-minute GT Round 6 event.
Mancinelli, the Long Beach GT race winner this year, spun his No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 late Friday afternoon in the fast Carousel section of the Road America course and his Ferrari landed on top of the outside tire barrier in Turn 9. Mancinelli walked away from the incident but the TR3 Racing crew worked all Friday night to repair the race car for Saturday morning’s qualifications.
In the 20-minute time trials, Mancinelli made a late dash to grab the pole position from 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Michael Christensen with a time of 2m4.960s. Mancinelli was the only driver to break the 2m05s mark in qualifying.
“In the Friday crash, the front splitter was a little bit broken, the body work on the right side, the rear bumper, and a little bit of the front bumper,” said Mancinelli. “The mechanics worked all night to repair and fix the car properly and it felt like a new car today. The suspension was fine, the mechanical parts were fine, so I have to thank the team a lot. They didn’t sleep last night. I’m proud that I took the pole here at Road America and this pole is for them.
“I felt the second sector was a little bit stronger and we got a little bit of top speed. I changed a few things there and got the pole, so we’ll see how we do in the race.”
Christensen’s time of 2m05.014s in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R secured the outside of the front row for Saturday’s afternoon GT event set for 4:35 p.m. CDT.
Rounding out the top three in GT qualifying was 2016 GT series champion Alvaro Parente in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 machine at 2m05.03s as the first three drivers were separated by less than a tenth of a second over the four-mile, 14-turn track north of Milwaukee.
“I believe I’m starting on the inside, so I would call this a pole and I’m happy with that,” said Christensen, a GT SprintX race winner last month at Lime Rock Park. “The pace is good and we’ll see what the race will bring. For now, it’s looking good.”
“We had relatively good qualifying laps,” said Parente. “The car was performing well. So, congratulations to the guys in the front because we felt we gave all we had. We’ll see what we can do on the race. I thought we had a chance for pole after all of the free practices, but there were probably too many free practices and that’s why they all got up to speed. Let’s see what we have for the race.”
Completing the top five in GT qualifying was GT Sprint point leader Scott Hargrove in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R at 2m05.250s and Rodrigo Baptista in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 at 2m05.299s. Current GT Overall point leader Toni Vilander will start sixth Saturday in his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 with a 2m05.467s.
Leading the GTA division in Saturday’s qualifying was 2016 GTA champion Martin Fuentes in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Italia Ferrari 488 GT3 at 2m06.445s, breaking the previous GTA record of 2m06.566s set by Frankie Montecalvo in 2015.
Second in GTA was 17-year-old Parker Chase in the No. 19 TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS at 2m06.506s, with third going to Anthony Imperato in the No. 91 Wright Motosports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 2m06.734s.
Saturday’s combined GT/GTS 50-minute event is set for 4:35 p.m. CDT. On Sunday, the GT/GTS combined 50-minute race will begin at 2:45 p.m. CDT.