Johnny O'Connell's Cadillac was quickest on Friday (Weber photo)
O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V turned a lap of 1:27.659 (85.422 mph) at the 14-turn, 2.08-mile circuit to lead the session. The GT-class Drivers’ Championship leader was the second quickest car in the morning’s rainy practice.
“We’re excited,” O’Connell said. “This street race is the only place in the world where you’re guaranteed that your boss is watching you. You’re on the race track and you can see the RenCen [the GM Renaissance Center] in the background. We’ve had an awesome season so far, which is really the result of everyone Cadillac Racing in the offseason doing their homework.”
Lawson Aschenbach fell 0.279-second shy of O’Connell’s best lap, completing the circuit in 1:27.938 (85.151 mph) in the No. 1 Privacy Star/Entrust/TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3. Randy Pobst’s No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60 was third with a 1:27.939 (85.150 mph), just a miniscule 0.001-second behind Aschenbach for second.
Andy Pilgrim (No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V) was fourth in 1:28.481 (84.628 mph), followed by Anders Hainer (No. 40 APS Inc/Under Armour Audi R8) in 1:28.979 (84.155 mph).
Lee spent the session alternating the GTS class lead with Peter Cunningham’s No. 42 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, but a lap of 1:34.279 (79.424 mph) on his final lap of the session put the No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro on the top of the time sheet.
“We struggled the last couple of races, the motor just didn’t quite seem right,” Lee said. “We took it apart and there were some things worn out. We put another motor in and we’re right back to where we were at St. Pete at the beginning of the year.
“Obviously, we’re still a privateer team but we’re the only GM team running the full schedule [in GTS] and I think we’ve represented the brand well, running consistently in the top five. On home turf, we want to be good and hopefully get some attention from them. That was the goal coming into this event.”
Cunningham, the GTS Drivers’ Championship leader, was second after a lap of 1:34.407 (79.316 mph) – 0.128-second behind Lee.
Jack Baldwin, driving the No. 68 Hot Wheels/Voodoo Ride/Invoice Prep Porsche Cayman S, finished third in the GTS class with a time of 1:35.081 (78.754 mph).
A pair of Kinetic Racing teammates were fourth and fifth in the session in the Nos. 36 and 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optimas, respectively. Michael Galati posted a lap of 1:35.163 (78.686 mph), followed by Mark Wilkins in 1:35.471 (78.432 mph).
Qualifying for Round Six of 12 in the Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTS season will take place at 10:15 a.m. EDT on Saturday morning, followed by the race at 2:45 p.m.
More information is available at www.world-challenge.com. Follow Pirelli World Challenge on Twitter @WCRacing.