In a story of overcoming adversity, EFFORT Racing will start Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge round from the pole, following a flyer by Michael Lewis in qualifying Friday on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Lewis reeled off a best lap of 1:13.017 in his No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R, edging out Alvaro Parente’s No. 9 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3 by 0.060 seconds in the heated 20-minute session.
It marked the young American’s first PWC overall pole and comes while the majority of the EFFORT crew works to rebuild the sister No. 31 Porsche following its heavy accident at Circuit of The Americas last weekend.
Long claimed pole for the COTA round and went onto claim victory in Race 1 before his accident at the start of Race 2.
“We’re pretty strapped on time and personnel this week, so to get a pole position is going to make the guys more pumped for racing tomorrow,” Lewis said.
“I have an awesome car this week, and I can’t say enough about this team. It’s a really special moment for the team after having so much adversity last week to come back strong with a pole position.”
Johnny O’Connell qualified the No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R in third with a 1:13.095 lap with the No. 6 K-PAX McLaren of Austin Cindric and Michael Cooper’s No. 8 Cadillac completing the top-five.
The top seven cars all eclipsed the previous track qualifying record, held by Tomas Enge from 2014.
In GTA, Martin Fuentes took class pole again in his No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, thanks to a 1:13.708 lap that put the double-COTA winner 13th overall.
Sloan Urry, meanwhile, rocketed to the GT Cup class pole in his No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Urry’s 1:16.643 lap was some 1.5 seconds quicker than Corey Fergus, who was second.
Alec Udell, who suffered a crash in Thursday’s practice session, did not set a time.
The first of two GT/GTA/GT Cup races is scheduled to get underway Saturday at 9:35 a.m. ET.