Andy Soucek, at the wheel of the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 he shares with Alvaro Parente, took pole position in the first 15-minute qualifying session for the opening round of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America with a 2:11.491 on his last lap of seven.
Quickest in the second session was the #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX, piloted by Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli, Marcelli setting a 2:07.206 on his sixth lap on a rapidly drying track.
The session got underway with the 3.427 mile (5.513 km) Texan circuit shrouded in mist and the track surface cool and damp. A time started to tumble, however, and by the end of Q1 Soucek was able to get down below 2:12. K-PAX Racing locked out the front row of the grid for Race 1 after Rodrigo Baptista in the #3 Bentley the Brazilian driver shares with Maxime Soulet lapped .05 seconds behind Soucek.
Completing the overall top three was the 2018 champion Miguel Molina in the #61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3 he shares with Toni Vilander.
Soucek was delighted to take pole for the opening round.
“We wanted to run on slicks which I think was the right thing to do,” said Soucek. “We had to wait until the end of the session for the tyres to get temperature and track to dry out. It was very trick out there and there were three or four sections of the track which were still a bit damp but once we got temperature you still slide around a bit but you were able to perform better than on the rain tyres.
“Happy days! The car was really good. I had traffic on my last lap otherwise I could have done a better lap time but it was enough for a pole so I am very pleased for K-PAX and for Bentley! First race on pole – there’s no better way to start”
Quickest of the Pro-Am in the first qualifying session was the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 in which JC Perez set a 2:17.424 while Joe Toussaint topped the timesheets in the Am category with a 2:21.525 in the #991 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R he shares with Alan Metni.
With the track dryer and warmer the second session, times were immediately quicker than Q1 with the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 topping the timesheets, Kyle Marcelli putting in a 2:07.206. Maxi Buhk will line up alongside Marcelli for the start of Race Two after the German driver lapped in 2:07.351 in the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes. Completing the top three for Race Two was the Alegra Motorsports Porsche after Michael De Quesada put in a 2:07.582 on his final lap.
Taking pole was a moment to remember for Racers Edge Motorsports team manager Jon Mirachi as the Deland, Florida-based team had taken delivery of the Acura just 35 days previously.
“It took us five months to put the programme together,” said Mirachi. “But we’ve only had the car for 35 days so I’m really proud of the guys, of Kyle, just everybody to allow us to accomplish this and get pole on our first race. It’s really exciting!”
The lights go out for Round One of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America at 15:40 local time on March 2