Patrick Long will start this afternoon’s Pirelli World Challenge season opener from the pole, after taking the top spot in qualifying Saturday at Circuit of The Americas.
The Porsche factory driver recorded a quick time of 2:04.588 in his No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, narrowly outpacing the pair of Cadillac ATS-V.Rs in the 30-minute session under overcast skies.
It marked a debut pole for the new-generation Porsche and in Long’s return to the series since winning the 2011 GT class championship.
PWC GT debutant Michael Cooper qualified second in the No. 8 Cadillac, just 0.002 seconds slower than Long, with four-time and defending champion Johnny O’Connell third in the No. 3 Caddy.
Alvaro Parente, rebounding from electrical issues, will line up fourth overall and in class in his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
The pair of Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s, driven by James Davison and Bryan Heitkotter, were fifth and sixth, respectively, ahead of Andrew Palmer in the best of the Bentley Continental GT3s in seventh.
The top 11 times, split between six different manufacturers, were separated by less than 1 second.
Martin Fuentes claimed the GTA class pole, with the Mexican driver taking his No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to a quick lap of 2:05.655, set early in the session.
It was good enough for 12th overall on the grid, ahead of a number of GT class entries.
Fuentes was 0.907 seconds quicker than the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Michael Schein, who was second, ahead of 2014 class champion Michael Mills in third.
The GT Cup class saw Sloan Urry take pole, thanks to a 2:10.452 lap time set in the No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
The first GT/GTA/GT Cup race of the weekend gets underway Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT, with live coverage on Motor Trend on Demand and World-ChallengeTV.com.