ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Italy’s Daniel Mancinelli made a shocking debut Friday in the GT/GTA qualifying session when the driver of the No. TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 capturing the overall pole position in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Case●It in the streets of St. Petersburg.
Mancinelli, a former open-wheel racer in Europe, recorded a pole run of one minute, 13.953 seconds (87.62 miles per hour) in the revised 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit on the St. Pete harborside in his first Pirelli World Challenge racing weekend after competing exclusively in his native Italy and European countries. Mancinelli clocked his fastest lap on his eighth and final lap of the qualifying round.
“The track is very tricky,” said Mancinelli. “It is very nice and fun for me and all of the drivers. I want to thank TR3 Racing because they gave me a very good car. This is a good track for the Ferrari. I love America right now! Last year, I raced just two races in the Ferrari Challenge. Those are my only American races before. I have raced the Ferrari Challenge in Europe as well as the Italian GT series. I drove a McLaren in the GT championship two years ago and last year I drove a Ferrari. I started in karting in Italy and then drove in open-wheel cars and Formula Three before moving into sports cars in 2012.“
The top 14 GT/GTA drivers Friday were within one second of the pole-winning lap time with an extremely tight grid for Saturday’s 2017 GT season opener set for 9:35 a.m. ET. Overnight, the track management made an adjustment to the track’s configuration in turn three. Thus, the GT/GTA field was qualifying on a new portion of the temporary course.
Another PWC newcomer, Pierre Kaffer of Germany, took the runner-up spot at 1:13.990 (87.57 m.p.h.) in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 with reigning GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal taking third with a 1:13.990 (87.57 m.p.h.) in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S. Rounding out the top five in Friday GT/GTA qualifying was another new driver to PWC in 2017, Alex Riberas of Spain, in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 with a 1:14.066 (87.48 m.p.h.) and 2011 PWC GT champion Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., at 1:14.184 (87.34 m.p.h.) in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Riberas’ R. Ferri Motorsports team did a sensational job repairing its Ferrari 488 GT3 after a practice incident in Thursday’s action.
The top six GT drivers were from different countries including Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, United States and Australia with JD Davison bringing up the sixth spot with the No. 007 TRG Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
“This is my first race in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Kaffer. “I’m really happy to be in this championship. For the past couple of years, it has been growing a lot with many good drivers. There are many good manufacturers here and to be in the first row in my first race is outstanding. I knew my Audi R8 was a strong car. Magnus Racing and Audi North America have done a great job preparing the car for us this year. I have a good understanding with this new Audi R8. Everything is good right now and I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s race.”
“It was a bit of a battle out there for qualifying,” said Parente, a six-time race winner in 2016. “We know that at street tracks like this, it’s always hard to get a clean lap. I had a close call with Johnny (O’Connell) on a really good lap. I thought he was going to get out of the way and he kept going. He probably didn’t see me. But it was my best lap with that set of tires, so I had to work on getting another good lap in the session. Had I gotten the clear lap when I needed it with the tires, I think I had a good chance for the pole. But still in third position, so I can’t complain too much.”
Completing the top ten in GT qualifying were four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ryan Dalziel of Windermere, Fla., in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and Michael Cooper of Syosset, NY, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
Taking top honors in the GTA category was 2016 GT Cup champion Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., in the No. 17 GMG/Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with a time of 1:14.796 (86.63 m.p.h.).
MotorTrendOnDemand will live-stream the event; this and live TSL Timing and Scoring links can be found on the PWC St. Petersburg event page.
Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Mar 9-12 GT/GTA/GT Cup Rd.1 Qualifying Results. Results are provisional until posted final.
Pos,PIC,Car No.,Class,Driver,Make/Model Team,Lap Time,MPH
1,1,31,GTA,Daniel MANCINELLI,Ferrari 488 GT3 – TR3 Racing,1:13.953,87.62
2,1,4,GT,Pierre KAFFER,Audi R8 – Magnus Racing,1:13.990,87.57
3,2,9,GT,Alvaro PARENTE,McLaren 650S – K-PAX Racing,1:13.990,87.57
4,3,61,GT,Alex RIBERAS,Ferrari 488 GT3 – R. Ferri Motorsport,1:14.066,87.48
5,4,58,GT,Patrick LONG,Porsche GT3R – Wright Motorsports,1:14.184,87.35
6,5,007,GT,James DAVISON,Aston Martin Vantage GT3 – TRG,1:14.188,87.34
7,6,3,GT,Johnny O’CONNELL,Cadillac ATS-V.R – Cadillac Racing,1:14.286,87.23
8,7,99,GT,Jon FOGARTY,Porsche GT3R – Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing,1:14.316,87.19
9,8,2,GT,Ryan DALZIEL,Mercedes AMG – CRP Racing,1:14.350,87.15
10,9,8,GT,Michael COOPER,Cadillac ATS-V.R – Cadillac Racing,1:14.621,86.83
11,10,6,GT,Bryan SELLERS,McLaren 650S – K-PAX Racing,1:14.733,86.70
12,11,88,GT,Adderly FONG,Bentley Continental GT3 – Absolute Racing,1:14.741,86.69
13,2,17,GTA,Alec UDELL,Porsche GT3R – GMG Racing,1:14.796,86.63
14,12,93,GT,Peter KOX,Acura NSX GT3 – RealTime Racing,1:14.836,86.58
15,3,16,GTA,Michael SCHEIN,Porsche GT3R – Wright Motorsports,1:15.374,85.97
16,4,98,GTA,Mike HEDLUND,McLaren 650S – K-PAX Racing,1:15.548,85.77
17,5,14,GTA,James SOFRONAS,Porsche GT3R – GMG Racing,1:15.975,85.29
18,6,69,GTA,Pablo Perez COMPANC,Mercedes AMG GT3 – Champ 1,1:16.131,85.11
19,13,78,GT,Yufeng LUO,Bentley Continental GT3 – Absolute Racing,1:16.897,84.26
20,7,44,GTA,John POTTER,Audi R8 – Magnus Racing,1:17.306,83.82
21,8,54,GTA,Tim PAPPAS,Mercedes Benz AMG GT3 – Black Swan Racing,1:17.717,83.37
22,9,04,GTA,Jorge DE LA TORRE,Aston Martin Vantage GT3 – De La Torre Racing,1:18.038,83.03