SALINAS, Calif. – Andrew Aquilante of Chester Springs, PA., runner-up in last year’s GTS championship to Michael Cooper, returned GTS action Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and quickly established himself as a favorite with the quickest practice time in the morning session with a one minute, 31.218 second time in the No. 37 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships presented by Nissan.
Aquilante, a race winner last year at Road America, is making his first Pirelli World Challenge start of 2016 this weekend in the GTS competition and bested 15-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Tex., in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4 at 1:31.374.
Chase, the youngest driver in the GTS division, placed second in the GTS action at Sonoma Raceway last month to 16-year-old Nate Stacy in a wild 50-minute sprint event.
Third on Friday at the well-known 2.238-mile, 11-turn road circuit was GTS rookie Scott Dollahite of Austin, Tex., in the No. 46 SDR Motorsports Lotus Evora at 1:31.981 followed by Stacy, of Owasso, Okla, in the No. 14 Roush Performance Road Racing Ford Boss 302 at 1:32.055 and 17-year-old Harry Gottsacker of San Antonio, Tex., in the 29 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta GT4 at 1:32. 145.
In the battle for the GTS point championship, current point leader and Sonoma race winner Brett Sandberg of Allendale, N.J., drove his No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-Bow to the sixth quickest time Friday at 1:32.756 followed by his series point contender Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speeed Shop Chevrolet Camaro at 1:32.794. Aschenbach is seeking his fifth Pirelli World Challenge point title this weekend.
The GTS cars will return for a second practice Friday at 2:50 p.m. PDT.