Nick Mancuso and Jack Baldwin set the fastest laps in Friday’s qualifying session for the Pirelli World Challenge Round 3 race at Barber Motorsports Park Presented by RECARO. The poles for both drivers are especially significant for different reasons.
For Mancuso, it’s his first career Pirelli World Challenge pole and as a GT-A designated driver an additional accomplishment to be starting at the front of the GT field.
The pole for Baldwin, his fifth in Pirelli World Challenge, is additionally significant given his GTSport Racing team’s considerable challenge of rebuilding his No. 73 Porsche Cayman S from the tub up over the last two weeks after it sustained heavy damage in a Lap 1 crash at Long Beach.
In GT, it’s an all-Ferrari front row. Mancuso, in the No. 16 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia took the pole on the strength of a 1:23.865. Mancuso’s teammate Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia will start second after posting a 1:24.121.
“I’m shaking! It was hair-raising the whole time. I almost crashed three times,” said Mancuso. “The most tense part though was when I hit the fastest lap and then came in and sat, and they gave me the countdown. Five minutes left, four minutes left…and three, two … then they say checkered and I’m like ‘Who’s out on the final lap!’ I was shaking in the car – I wanted it so bad!
“To do this for Remo and the R. Ferri guys, this is what they came here to do. It’s validation for our entire team and entire program.”
Mancuso added: “all drivers are kind of cocky but honestly I didn’t think I could get the pole today. I was hoping for a top-five, and thought a top-three would be great. But then I did a lap and they told me on the radio I was just seven tenths down – I was like, ‘What?’ – then I just threw down.”
Starting third in GT is Mike Skeen in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra (1:24.258). Rounding out the top 5 in GT are Robert Thorne in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 12C GT3 (1:24.354) and Andrew Palmer in the No. 21 Global Motorsports Group Audi R8 Ultra (1:24.442).
Of note, the 2014 GT points leaders coming into Barber, Andy Pilgrim and Johnny O’Connell, will have to battle their way up from the fourth row on Saturday to get to the podium. Pilgrim will start 7th after posting an 1:24.837 in his No. 8 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R. O’Connell will start 8th after posting a 1:24.889 in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing CTS-V.R.
In GTS, Baldwin, in the No. 73 RESET-MD/StopTech/Motul GTSport Racing with Goldcrest Motorsports Porsche Cayman S took the pole with a 1:32.033. His car had sustained heavy damage at Long Beach and the GTSport team worked tirelessly over the last two weeks to rebuild the car to compete at Barber.
Lining up next to Baldwin is Long Beach winner and current GTS points leader Nic Jonsson in the No. 36 Kia Motors America Kia Optima. Jonsson posted a 1:32.135. Jonsson’s teammate Mark Wilkins had the third fastest time of the session with a 1:32.167 in the No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima.
GT, GT-A and GTS Round 3 from Barber Motorsports Park Presented by RECARO is scheduled to start at 3:55 p.m. CDT on Saturday. Live streaming of the race begins at 3:25 p.m. CDT with the lights going out for the standing start at 3:55 p.m. CDT/ 4:55 p.m. EDT.