Ian James, driving the #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT, took his third pole position of the season ahead of Round 17 of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GT4/GTS championship with a 1:39.951 set on his sixth and final lap of the 30-minute session. Present track-side to watch the session was team founder, Dr Don Panoz.
Lining up alongside the Surrey, England-born and now Arizona-based driver will be Martin Barkey in the #80 Mantella Autosport KTM XBow GT4 who set a 1:40.390.
Third on the grid in the Pro category will be Rodrigo Baptista, currently lying fourth in the GTS drivers standings, who set a 1:40.511 in the #3 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
2017 Sprint GT GTS drivers champion Lawson Aschenbach, driving the #10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4, will start fourth on the grid for the first 60-minute race of the weekend after he lapped the 2.385 mile (3.838 kms) Sonoma Raceway circuit in 1:40.601.
“That was an exciting qualifying session there and we’re glad to grab pole for today’s GTs race,” said Ian James. “The Panoz Avezzano is really well-suited to this track. The team has done a great job all weekend. It’s great to have Don Panoz here this weekend to support our effort. We are going into race one today and hopefully will get another race victory. I’m looking forward to the race.”
Starting from pole in the GTSA category will be Derek Deboer in the #007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4, after he set a 1:41.518 on his eighth lap of nine. Second quickest in the Am category was George Kurtz, leader in the GTSA drivers championship, in the #04 GMG Racing McLaren 570S GT4 who lapped in 1:42.361.
McLaren 570S GT4s will start in second and third spots on the grid in the Am category after Mark Klenin in the #62 KPR McLaren 570S GT4 set a 1:43.195.
With drivers clearly unwilling to risk their cars further in the session, the majority of entrants had set their times and returned to the pits with ten minutes remaining in the 30-minute session.
The lights go out for the first race of the weekend for the GTS/GT4 category, Round 17 of the class championship, at 17:15 local time. Live coverage of the race can be found HERE.