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Skeen on Pirelli WC Pole at Sonoma

Mike Skeen takes pole for Pirelli World Challenge round at Sonoma…

Photo: Melissa K. Smith/Pirelli WC

Photo: Melissa K. Smith/Pirelli WC

Mike Skeen (GT) and Jack Baldwin (GTS) have secured Motul pole positions for Saturday’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma. Round 13 of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season is part of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend.

With qualifying was held under overcast skies and a cool ambient temperature of 61 degrees, conditions were ideal to set faster times. In all, 17 GT/GT-A drivers eclipsed the previous track record of 1:35.400, set by Johnny O’Connell last year.

Skeen took the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra to his fourth pole position of the year, with a new track record of 1:33.167 around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway.

The two Dyson Racing Team Bentley entries line up behind Skeen. Butch Leitzinger in the No. 08 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 starts just ahead of teammate Guy Smith in the No. 88 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3. Leitzinger (1:33.295) and Smith (1:33.493) were the only two to clock in within half a second of Skeen.

Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Robert Thorne in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 12C GT3 rounded out the top five.

Points leader O’Connell starts 10th in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R. He entered the weekend with an 82-point lead on Skeen (1228-1146), but that lead will be reduced to 75 with Skeen gaining the seven points for pole position. Additionally, Audi will close on Cadillac in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

Of note, Mike Hedlund will start ninth in the No. 77 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Christina Nielsen will start 17th in the No. 00 Passtime USA/Magisto Aston Martin GT3. Hedlund makes his first start since Long Beach, and Nielsen her first this season.

For the second time this year, Albert von Thurn und Taxis in the No. 24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2, was the fastest qualified GT-A driver. The German will start 11th overall following a best time of 1:34.377. Class points leader Michael Mills in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R, starts second among GT-A drivers and 14th overall.

In GTS, Baldwin has his class-leading fifth pole position of the season in the No. 73 RESET-MD Porsche Cayman S, but his first since Round 7 at Road America in June. Baldwin started on pole in three of the first four races as well.

On Saturday morning, Baldwin clocked in at 1:41.250 to beat his old track record of 1:42.863, set last year. The top 12 drivers in GTS eclipsed the previous mark.

“I am thrilled to give GTSport Racing the pole and a new track record for all of the hard work they have done to get us to this point,” Baldwin said. “Our RESET-MD team continues to get better and better.

“I can’t say enough about what a great sportscar the Porsche Cayman S proves to be. We are very focused, and looking forward to a great weekend.”

Mid-Ohio double winner Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro, also made it into the 1:41 range at 1:41.931.

Points leader Mark Wilkins in the No. 38 PutOnTheBrakes.org Kia Optima starts third. Joey Atterbury in the No. 33 Capaldi Racing/Ford Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S and Nic Jonsson in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima round out the top five.

Round 13 will be live streamed on www.world-challengetv.com starting at 2:20 p.m. PT and local time (5:20 p.m. ET), with lights out for the 50-minute race from a standing start at 2:30 p.m. PT.

RESULTS: Qualifying

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