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O’Connell Takes PWC Pole in Detroit

Johnny O’ Connell takes Cadillac to pole in Detroit…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Johnny O’Connell (GT) and Dean Martin (GTS) have secured the Motul pole positions for Saturday’s Round 5 of the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge Championships season, the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac Dealers.

O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R was one of two drivers in GT to break into the 1:31 barrier. At 1:31.899, O’Connell set a new track record here at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

“We knew we’d be quick. We went good without stickers on Friday,” O’Connell said. “On stickers, you can throw down some amazing stuff for two or three laps. I made two really good timed laps and I knew that was all had. But doing that here in Detroit is important.”

In second was O’Connell’s teammate Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R. Pilgrim clocked in at 1:31.955, 0.056 off the pole.

The pair started first and second at the series’ most recent street race, Round 2 at Long Beach in April, and finished in the same positions. They seek to do likewise on Cadillac’s home soil here in Detroit.

“You gotta love it. Andy did a super job and stepped up,” O’Connell added. “Both of us are so close, only an inch or two on track makes the difference.”

In third was Anthony Lazzaro, of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 at 1:32.012. He just edged Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra at 1:32.018. Rounding out the top five was Robert Thorne, of Littleton, Col., in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 12C GT3 at 1:32.285.

The top nine in GT down to James Sofronas, of Villa Park, Calif., all broke Sofronas’ previous track record of 1:33.059, set last year.

Fastest GT-A qualifier in 11th overall was Michael Mills, of Angleton, Texas, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R at 1:33.961. He beat Round 4 winner Marcelo Hahn, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the No. 0 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 by 1.020 seconds.

Martin, of Westland, Mich., looks for an encore of his 2013 Detroit race two GTS win from his first career fastest qualifying effort. Martin, driving the No. 50 Picture Cars East/Rehagen Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302S, beat the fellow Mustang of Alec Udell to take the top spot late in the 15-minute session.

“Tough to see with the sun. Pretty early for qualifying with the sun just coming up,” Martin said. “But this Mustang was great and the Pirellis came in on the third lap. We were P3, then went after it. It’ll be a tricky start. So long as the GT cars get off cleanly, it will be tight. A good morning for Ford.”

It was a big qualifying session for Fords at the race where General Motors’ headquarters provide the backdrop. Additionally, all four Fords involved in the start line crash at Barber Motorsports Park last month for Round 4 will be starting in the top five for Round 5.

After Martin, the lone interloper in the top five was Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., in the No. 73 RESET-MD/StopTech/Motul Porsche Cayman S in second place. Baldwin clocked in a flier on his seventh and final lap of 1:39.524.

“Once again this is for the GTSport/Goldcrest guys that have put in some long hard days to make my No. 73 RESET-MD Porsche Cayman S fast,” Baldwin said. “We have had a few issues and these guys never gave up. We are proud of our starting position and are looking for a good race.”

After the front row, the rest of the top five are three other Mustang drivers. Jack Roush Jr., of Livonia, Mich., starts third in the No. 60 ROUSH Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R (1:39.688); Udell, of The Woodlands, Texas, starts fourth in the No. 17 Watson Racing/MDG Ford Mustang Boss 302S (1:39.843) and Tony Buffomante, of Naperville, Ill., starts fifth in the No. 33 Capaldi Racing/Ford Racing Ford Mustang Boss 320S (1:39.915).

Sixth placed Lawson Aschenbach, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro also beat the previous track record, 1:40.238 set by Andy Lee last year.

Round 5 rolls off at 10:05 a.m. ET this morning, with live streaming set to begin on at 9:40 a.m. ET.

RESULTS: Qualifying

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