ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Two-time GTS Driver Champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., captured the pole position at the first GTS qualifying session of the season Thursday in the all-new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R sports car during the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Case●It at the harborside, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.
Piloting the pretty No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, Aschenbach wrangled the top spot from a highly-competitive GTS field Thursday afternoon with a new qualifying track record time of one-minute, 18.855-seconds at 82.17 miles per hour. In the 20-minute qualifying session, the four-time PWC series titleholder made only five qualifying laps but the fourth circuit was the quickest and became the first GTS racer to break the one minute, 19-second range.
The old mark was set in 2015 by Dean Martin in Ford Mustang Boss 302 at 1.19.001 (82.02 m.p.h.).
“Obviously, it is very exciting to get pole in the first race debut weekend,” said Aschebach, the former Vanderbilt graduate. “It’s important we have success with this car for everyone involved in the program. Starting this weekend, we knew the car was pretty close to what we needed. It’s pretty surprising to roll out of the trailer and know we have a car that is going to be fast. It’s a testament to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop, Chevrolet, Pratt & Miller, and everyone involved in this program, to be able to come out and be ready to go. Getting the pole is a pretty good feeling. We care about the race more than anything else and we really want to win this one for everyone involved.”
Sixteen-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Texas, battled Aschenbach for the top spot in the grid with a 1:19.093 lap (81.92 m.p.h.) – 0.238-second behind pole – in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55. Rounding out the top five in the 19-car field were veteran Andrew Aquilante of Chester Springs, Penn., at a 1:19.230 (81.78 m.p.h.) in the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302, 2016 multi-time GTS race winner Jade Buford of Nashville, Tenn., at 1:19.538 (81.47 m.p.h.) in the No. 45 Racer’s Edge Motorsports SIN Car GT4 and former GTA class champion Frankie Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J., at 1:19 805 (81.19 m.p.h.) in the No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM XBow.
The first GTS race of the year for the Pirelli World Challenge is scheduled for Friday at 12:15 p.m. ET. MotorTrendOnDemand will live-stream the event; this and live TSL Timing and Scoring links can be found on the PWC St. Petersburg event page.
GTS OFFICIAL QUALIFYING
(POS., NO., NAME, ENTRY, TIME, MPH)
1,10,Lawson ASCHENBACH,Chevrolet Camaro GT-4 – Blackdog Speed Shop,1:18.855,82.17
2,19,Parker CHASE,GINETTA G55 – Performance Motorsports Group,1:19.093,81.92
3,32,Andrew AQUILANTE,Ford Mustang Boss 302 – Phoenix Performance,1:19.230,81.78
4,45,Jade BUFORD,SIN R1 GT4 – Racers Edge Motorsports,1:19.538,81.47
5,13,Frankie MONTECALVO,KTM X-Bow – ANSA Motorsports,1:19.805,81.19
6,80,Martin BARKEY,KTM XBow GT4 – Mantella Autosports,1:19.990,81.01
7,69,Harry GOTTSACKER,GINETTA G55 – Performance Motorsports Group,1:20.085,80.91
8,3,Rodrigo BAPTISTA,Porsche Cayman GT4 Club Sport MR – Flying Lizard Motorsports,1:20.205,80.79
9,50,Ian JAMES,Panoz Avezzano GT – Team Panoz Racing,1:20.634,80.36
10,14,Nate STACY,Porsche Cayman GT4 Club Sport MR – Flying Lizard Motorsports,1:20.955,80.04
11,8,Anthony MANTELLA,KTM XBow GT4 – Mantella Autosports,1:21.083,79.91
12,2,Jason BELL,SIN R1 GT4 – Racers Edge Motorsports,1:21.098,79.90
13,62,Mark KLENIN,McLaren 570S GT4 – KPR,1:21.186,79.81
14,04,George KURTZ,McLaren 570S GT4 – GMG Racing,1:21.219,79.78
15,11,Tony GAPLES,Chevrolet Camaro GT-4 – Blackdog Speed Shop,1:21.328,79.67
16,7,Cameron MAUGERI,Porsche Cayman GT4 Club Sport MR – KRUGSPEED,1:21.511,79.49
17,017,Adam MERZON,Porsche Cayman GT4 – Case-it Racing,1:22.118,78.91
18,018,Cameron CASSELS,Porsche GT4 Clubsport – Case-it Racing,1:22.474,78.57
19,9,Bill ZIEGLER,KTM X-Bow – ANSA Motorsports,1:24.025,77.11