Lawson Aschenbach (No. 1) was quickest in practice 2 at the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by StopTech. Credit: Mark Weber/SCCA
It was the first practice session of the weekend for many Pirelli World Challenge Championships drivers and teams who elected to sit out Friday afternoon's wet session. It didn't take long, however, for those with experience to find speed on the 1.8-mile Long Beach street circuit.
Lawson Aschenbach, of Darnestown, Md., was quickest in his first GT practice session of the weekend, while Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., continued to lead GTS, just as he did on Friday afternoon.
Through the early stages of the 2012 World Challenge season, Aschenbach has been one of the - if not THE - quickest drivers in GT, which he showed again on Saturday morning. He posted a best lap at 1:22.822 (85.542 mph) in the No. 1 Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche 911 GT3 to top the charts and get his efforts to earn a second consecutive GT victory off to a strong start.
"Obviously, today was the first dry session," said Aschenbach. "We didn't even go out yesterday, but we kind of did that on purpose. We knew the car was going to be fairly good here. This is a good Porsche track. This Privacy Star/Entrust Porsche GT3 is just awesome. All the TruSpeed guys do such a great job in between races getting the car ready, getting it cleaned up and just sort of thinking out a good setup before we even get here. It makes my job easy when we get to the weekend when we're fine-tuning rather than making big changes. I'm very happy with the result. Hopefully, we can just continue that throughout the weekend."
Second quickest in GT was Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60. Pobst turned in a best lap of 1:23.485 (84.863 mph) and pointed out that the track conditions were especially beneficial to his race car.
"The track was incredibly slick," Pobst said. "It's green. In other words, nobody has driven on it much in the dry, almost none, so the grip was really low, which helped our K-Pax Volvo a lot. We have all-wheel drive and really take advantage of the Pirelli slicks. The car ran beautifully, which was tremendous. I think it was the party on Pine (Ave. on Thursday night). We had, like, a dancer, who was focused on our car. He was a little crazy, but I think he maybe did a little voodoo for us.
"So far the car is great. The track is challenging, especially on brakes. I think that's a good first session. I'm really happy for the team. Both cars ran great at K-Pax and I think there's more. From what I hear about the times, there's going to need to be a little bit more."
Justin Marks, of Davidson, N.C., was third in GT with a best lap at 1:23.626 (84.720 mph) in the No. 46 GoPro/Mooresville Motorplex Porsche 911 GT3. Marks was quickest in Friday's session - his first ever on the streets of Long Beach - and proved that his Friday times were no fluke.
Andy Pilgrim, of Marina Del Rey, Fla., was fourth in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V. Pilgrim posted a best lap at 1:23.684 (84.661 mph). Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., made it three TruSpeed cars in the top five. Drissi turned a best lap at 1:23.685 (84.660 mph) in the No. 47 The Three Stooges The Movie Porsche 911 GT3.
It doesn't seem to matter what the track conditions are for Cunningham, as his No. 42 RealTime Racing/Acura/HPD Acura TSX was fastest on both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Cunningham logged a best lap at 1:29.846 (78.855 mph) to lead GTS practice, and he's optimistic the performance will carry over to tomorrow's qualifying session and race.
"This morning, it was 99 percent dry and a whole different track," Cunningham said. "It was more like we remember from last year. We're just kind of sorting things out and starting to feel what the car is doing. It's working very well. We're looking forward to qualifying.
"In qualifying you just want to make sure that you put down a lap because of the concrete walls or the possibility of a red flag, you need to make sure you get a representative lap time in. We'll be able to turn a good time. I don't know what everybody else is doing and we can't control that, but we feel pretty good about our package."
Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., was second quickest in GTS with a lap at 1:30.404 (78.368 mph) in the No. 68 Hot Wheels/Invoice Prep Porsche Cayman S. Baldwin, who won the 1992 Trans-Am championship and brings experience at Long Beach from that era, is excited to be back this weekend.
"I'm loving it," Baldwin said. "I'm just glad to be back and glad to be a part of the World Challenge. I'm just thrilled for this opportunity to drive the Hot Wheels/Invoice Prep Cayman. A lot of hard work has gone into this effort from the time we showed up at St. Pete. After we left St. Pete, we learned a lot. I feel like I've got a great crew of guys working on this car and they have put in a lot of hard work between St. Pete to now, knowing that we've got to get better. We're going to continue to do that and try to be at the level of quality and competitiveness that World Challenge expects."
Third quickest in GTS was Justin Bell, of Los Angeles, Calif., in the No. 50 eBay Motors Ford Mustang Boss 302S. Bell - who won both races of the 2012 season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg as a pinch-hitter for 2011 GTS champion Paul Brown and is back in that role this weekend - posted a best lap at 1:31.357 (77.550 mph).
Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., was fourth in GTS at 1:31.430 (77.488 mph) in the No. 34 RealTime Racing/Acura/HPD Acura TSX. Michael Galati, of Olmstead Falls, Ohio, completed the class top five in the No. 34 Infinity Audio/Kia Motors America Kia Optima. Galati's best lap was a 1:32.040 (76.975 mph).
Sunday's schedule at the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by StopTech calls for a 30-minute qualifying session from 8:25 to 8:55 a.m. PT, followed by the 50-minute race at 4:15 p.m. PT. The race - which is Round 3 of a 12-race schedule for GT and GTS - features a standing start and is subject to a 50-minute time limit.
The race will be available via live webcast beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on www.world-challengetv.com. NBC Sports Network will televise the race at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 29.
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Results from practice session #2 for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach at Long Beach Street Course, with position, class, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.
1. GT, (1), Lawson Aschenbach, Darnestown, Md., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:22.822, 85.542.
2. GT, (6), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 1:23.485, 84.863.
3. GT, (46), Justin Marks, Davidson, N.C., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:23.626, 84.720.
4. GT, (8), Andy Pilgrim, Marina Del Rey, Fla., Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, 1:23.684, 84.661.
5. GT, (47), Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:23.685, 84.660.
6. GT, (3), Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, 1:23.806, 84.538.
7. GT, (14), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:23.829, 84.515.
8. GT, (9), Alex Figge, Denver, Colo., Volvo S60 AWD, 1:24.086, 84.256.
9. GT, (4), Dino Crescentini, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:24.119, 84.223.
10. GT, (77), David Welch, Bothell, Wash., Ferrari F430 GT, 1:24.123, 84.219.
11. GT, (40), Anders Hainer, Hidden Hills, Calif., Audi R8 LMS, 1:24.772, 83.574.
12. GT, (02), Brian Kubinski, Charlotte, N.C., Corvette Z06, 1:25.206, 83.149.
13. GT, (85), Steve Ott, Houston, Texas, Porsche 911 GT3, 1:25.350, 83.008.
14. GT, (99), Jeff Courtney, Milwaukee, Wis., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:25.758, 82.613.
15. GT, (44), Brent Holden, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:26.730, 81.688.
16. GTS, (42), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 1:29.846, 78.855.
17. GT, (12), Jason Daskalos, Albuquerque, N.M., Nissan GTR, 1:30.000, 78.720.
18. GTS, (68), Jack Baldwin, Marrietta, Ga., Porsche Cayman S, 1:30.404, 78.368.
19. GTS, (50), Justin Bell, Los Angeles, Calif., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:31.357, 77.550.
20. GTS, (34), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., Acura TSX, 1:31.430, 77.488.
21. GTS, (36), Michael Galati, Olmstead Falls, Ohio, Kia Optima 2000cc, 1:32.040, 76.975.
22. GTS, (38), Colin Braun, Charlotte, N.C., Kia Optima, 1:32.654, 76.465.
23. GTS, (28), Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Texas, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:32.680, 76.443.
24. GTS, (20), Andy Lee(R), Colorado Springs, Colo., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:32.861, 76.294.
25. GTS, (07), Brian Kleeman(R), Towson, Md., Nissan 370 Z, 1:34.187, 75.220.
26. GTS, (26), Alfonso Perri(R), Brooklyn, N.Y., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:35.778, 73.971.
27. GTS, (23), Roger Miller(R), Salt Lake City, Utah, Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:36.124, 73.704.
28. GTS, (51), Ric Bushey, Virginia Beach, Va., Nissan 370 Z, 1:36.903, 73.112.
29. GTS, (29), Harry Curtin(R), Buffalo, N.Y., Chevrolet Camaro, 1:38.037, 72.266.
30. GTS, (52), Greg Shaffer, Harrisonburg, Va., Nissan 370 Z, 1:38.595, 71.857.
31. GT, (2), Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., Nissan GTR, 1:38.928, 71.615.
32. GTS, (96), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 1:39.318, 71.334.
33. GT, (11), Tony Gaples, Lincolnshire, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette, 1:53.714, 62.303.
34. GTS, (95), Bill Ziegler, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Mitsubishi EVO, 26:39.807, 4.428.
35. GTS, (01), Don Istook, River Oaks, Texas, Audi TT RX, no time.