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Vilander Storms to St. Pete Pole in New Track Record

Toni Vilander storms to pole for Pirelli World Challenge GT Sprint Race 1 in St. Pete..

Photo: PWC

Toni Vilander has stormed to the GT pole for this afternoon’s Pirelli World Challenge Sprint season-opener in St. Pete, smashing the track qualifying record in the shortened qualifying session.

The Finn took his No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 to a quick lap of 1:10.923, outpacing the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Michael Christensen by 0.454 seconds.

It marked Vilander’s first series pole in his PWC debut, breaking Michael Lewis’ track qualifying record by more than two seconds.

Daniel Keilwitz will line up third in the No. 26 Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R, ahead of Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 00 TRG Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in fourth and Daniel Morad completing the top-five in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Rodrigo Baptista, meanwhile, claimed GTA pole honors in his No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3.

The session came to a halt with five minutes left on the clock when Scott Hargrove made contact with the Turn 14 barriers in his No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche.

Alvaro Parente and Martin Fuentes also brushed the wall in qualifying, but each to lesser extents than the Canadian driver.

Eleven of the 12 GT/GTA cars turned laps, with the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari of Daniel Mancinelli not setting a time, reportedly out of a protest due to his car’s BoP.

Ferraris running the 2018-spec ‘Evo’ kit are carrying additional weight compared to the non-Evo spec, which Vilander is utilizing this weekend.

Race 1 is set for 3:50 p.m. ET, with live streaming on

RESULTS: Qualifying

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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