Ian James scored the pole position in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Avezzano GT in today’s qualifying session for round nine of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship. The result is the car’s first pole in the GTS class with James’ previous season best start of second at Lime Rock Park. A time of 2:27.915 recorded on his second lap out in the session secured the position by 0.032 seconds over Ernie Francis Jr in the PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4. Both cars maintaining their pace from practice at the 4-mile 14-turn Road America.
James scored the second fastest time of the first practice session on Friday. A lap of 2:21.598 was just 0.888 off the top pace set by Rodrigo Baptista’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. James led the second practice session on Saturday 0.571 seconds ahead of Jeff Courtney.
Francis Jr scored his front-row start despite sharing his Mustang with James Pesek, who was the only one to record laps in the machine for Practice 2. He was third-fastest in Practice 1.
James and Francis Jr’s qualifying times were followed by Jeff Courtney in No. 99 Maserati GT4, Austin Versteeg and Martin Barkey in the Nos. 13 and 80 KTM Xbow GT4s. The entire top five qualifiers recorded times within 0.610 seconds on one another.
Championship leader Lawson Aschenbach was scored sixth fastest in the session 1.026 seconds from the top spot in the No. 10 Camaro GT4.R. He was followed by Fred Roberts in the No. 89 Maserati, Baptista and the two Ginetta G55s of Drew Staveley and Harry Gottsacker.
Cody Ellsworth took the pole in the TC category for the weekend’s non-points scoring touring car exhibition. He recorded a time of 2:26.309 in his No. 111 RacerInk Motorsports Porsche Caymen, 0.072 seconds ahead of Nicholas Barbato in the No. 75 GenRacer Genesis Coup. A total of 11 TC machines are expected to take the green flag alongside the GTS class for the first multi-class GTS race since 2014.
The session was interrupted by a red flag with only a few moments to go for a stopped BMW on track.
Today’s 50-minute GTS race is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. CT just after the first GT race of the weekend. Round 9 of GTS championship is up for grabs with a number of drivers aiming to capture the first wins of the season for their machines, including Aschenbach’s Camaro, James’ Avezzano, Francis Jr’s Mustang and Courtney’s Maserati. The race can be streamed live at world-challenge.com/streamvideo.