A Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 is on the pole for the Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, albeit not the one that might have been expected going into the weekend.
The NGT Motorsport pair of entries have swept the front row for Sunday’s 50-minute Round 20, with Alessandro Pier Guidi and Alessandro Balzan first and second in both drivers’ first series starts.
Pier Guidi, in the red No. 30 Ferrari and Balzan, in the chrome No. 29 Ferrari, were announced earlier this week to replace Henrique and Eduardo Cisneros respectively for the final race of the year. Henrique Cisneros had been mathematically eliminated from title contention in the GTA category.
Pier Guidi broke the previous track record by 1.7 seconds, with a best lap of 1:23.734 around the 2.238-mile circuit. Randy Pobst had held the previous mark of 1:25.499, set in a K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 in 2011.
While the pair of NGT Ferraris swept the front row, the two title contenders for the GT championship are set to roll off from fifth and 12th.
Johnny O’Connell clocked in fifth in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, just ahead of teammate Andy Pilgrim. O’Connell posted a 1:24.553.
Meanwhile Olivier Beretta will have to rally from 12th in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Beretta was planning one final run to make an improvement of his best time of 1:24.904, but was left stranded at pit exit following a red flag that flew for Chris Dyson going off course.
Beretta enters Sunday’s race 26 points behind O’Connell.
Of note, Ryan Dalziel and Mike Skeen qualified third and fourth, in-between the Ferraris and the Cadillacs. Dane Cameron slots in 13th, after his last-minute call-up at Turner Motorsport.
Eric Lux was the top qualifying GT driver in the No. 08 DragonSpeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in 15th overall.
Colin Thompson scored another class pole in GT Cup presented by MOMO, in the No. 11 Kelly-Moss Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Sunday’s race occurs at 1:35 p.m. PT, 4:35 p.m. ET, with live streaming available via world-challengetv.com.