O’Connell & Wilkins Pace Detroit Time Trials

Mark Wilkins put his Kia at the top of the charts in qualifying for the GTS class Friday at Belle Isle Park. (Mark Weber/SCCA Photo)

In the GTS class, Wilkins, in the No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima, scored the marque’s first pole position of 2013, with a time of 1:41.475 (83.370 mph). The strong qualifying lap comes on the heels of Kia’s first podium of the season at COTA.

“It’s great for Kia,” Wilkins said. “It’s the first pole of the season and the first pole in a while coming off a strong race at Circuit of The Americas. We’re building on the momentum. The Detroit circuit is great. It’s a lot of fun. The competition is quick and I knew they were going to bring their A-game. Jack [Baldwin] is super close. He’s really strong, as he’s leading the championship. We’re just trying to be in that fold and gain some points back. Getting a few points for the pole is great and we’re looking forward to a good race tomorrow.

“It’s a great feeling to get a good time in and get all you can out of the car, and yourself. I thought I gained some good momentum at COTA, where we figured out how to get the car to work well in the second race through tire management. Getting more and more comfortable allows you to push a little bit quicker.”

GTS Drivers’ Championship leader, Jack Baldwin will roll off second in class. Driving the No. 73 Motul/StopTech/Foametix Porsche Cayman, Baldwin threw down a lap of 1:41.566 (83.295 mph).

“Any time you qualify in the Pirelli World Challenge you need to step it up,” Baldwin said. “Qualifying is especially important here, and we always try to go out there and do the best job we can.”

Peter Cunningham will start Race One of this doubleheader weekend in third, after turning a time of 1:42.218 (82.764 mph) in his No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.

“The Acura does really well at Detroit,” Cunningham said. “We got a few fast laps in, but that’s about all we had. It’s not quite what the top-two guys had, but I think there were problems for some of the cars behind us, so they may not have turned in representative laps. But, we’re ready for tomorrow.”

Nic Jonsson backed up his teammate’s pole-winning performance in his No. 36 Kia Motors America Kia Optima, turning a 1:42.358 (82.651 mph). With that time, Jonsson will line up to start fourth.

Dean Martin will start his first of two home races from the fifth position. Martin turned a qualifying lap of 1:42.581 (82.471 mph) in the No. 50 Picture Cars East/Grand Sanitation Ford Mustang Boss 302S.