- Multiple manufacturers in the top five for both grids
- Parente beats Long by 0.097 seconds in Q1; Soucek just a tenth up in Q2
- Qualifying sets precedent for two thrilling 90-minute, two-driver races
Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek led a qualifying session each to set the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 on pole for both of this weekend’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America races at Virginia International Raceway presented by Henry Repeating Arms.
Parente kicked things off with the quickest time in the opening 15-minute run before Soucek notched up his second pole of the season in the second qualifying group immediately afterwards.
The yellow-trimmed Bentley will share the front row of the grid with a Porsche and a Ferrari, after the five other manufacturers represented pushed to claim to the best grid spots in two competitive sessions.
Parente’s Group 1 time of 1:43.614 was challenged to the end by Patrick Long, who fell just 0.097 seconds short in the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Long did, however, manage to split the Bentleys with Rodrigo Baptista setting the third-best time of 1:43.769 in the #3 K-PAX car to put less than four tenths of a second between the top three runners.
In fourth was Miguel Molina in the #61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 while the Alegra Motorsport Porsches of Daniel Morad and Wolf Henzler came through in fifth and sixth.
Just behind that group was the #91 Wright-entered Porsche which Anthony Imperato placed on the Pro-Am pole for the first time this season.
Five different manufacturers made up the top five positions in the second qualifying group as Soucek consolidated Parente’s Q1 effort with another table-topping charge.
The Spanish ace turned in a time of 1:43.363 midway through the session which survived through a series of late improvements from other drivers.
Toni Vilander came closest to toppling the Bentley’s reign with the Finn flying to a 1:43.558 in the red R. Ferri Ferrari, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Scott Hargrove gave Wright Motorsport’s #58 Porsche a solid pair of starting positions by lapping third-fastest, while Dane Cameron put the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo fourth overall during its first Blancpain GT World Challenge America event of the season.
Cameron narrowly beat Ryan Dalziel in the #04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 not only to a second-row starting spot, but also the weekend’s second pole in Pro-Am.
In the Am class, Martin Fuentes and Caesar Bacarella boosted their Kavana Cup special award hopes by adding two more poles to their growing 2019 collection.
The #7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3 pairing have now claimed three out of seven poles needed to fulfil one criterion counting towards the potential $250,000 GT3 cash prize.
With the grids now set, attention turns to the first of two 90-minute, two-driver races which is set to go green at 2:10 p.m. EDT.
Live coverage will be available on gt-world-challenge-america.com.
Alvaro Parente, Race 1 pole sitter (#9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3): “It was a really nice first qualifying. We know the cars have been really good here. We had a great test and prepared really well for this weekend. We’re feeling pretty confident and hopefully we can have two good results.”
Andy Soucek, Race 2 pole sitter (#9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3): “It was a great qualifying for both of us. I have to say that this is mostly thanks to K-PAX because we came testing here for two days and we found exactly the right set up for this race track. So the fact that it rained in the second practice yesterday made all the others have to chase for the dry setup in qualifying and therefore we had a slight advantage. That was very important for us.”