DETROIT – Johnny O’Connell and Mark Wilkins will lead their respective classes to green Saturday after scoring the Motul Pole Awards for Round Six of the Pirelli World Challenge in the Cadillac V-Series Challenge, part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
O’Connell, the winner of both Belle Isle races last year, captured his second pole this season in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, with a time of 1:33.592 (90.392 mph) around the 2.35-mile street course.
“My qualifying run was really good,” O’Connell said. “Based on the few laps we did this morning, my engineer and I made a few changes on the No. 3 CTS-V.R and we went in the right direction. I had a lot of confidence in the car and was able put it on the pole. With just a couple of laps in practice I had to rely on my laps around this track from the past. Some history paid off today.”
Heading into Saturday’s race, weather may prove to be a wild card, as there is an 80 percent chance of rain in the forecast.
“If it does rain that puts us at a disadvantage to the four-wheel drive Volvos,” O’Connell said. “We will have to overcome our grip disadvantage with the motivation of running here in GM’s hometown of Detroit to make up some of that difference.”
One of the aforementioned Volvos will be that of Randy Pobst starting on the outside of row one in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. Pobst lapped the course in 1:33.863 (90.131 mph).
“It’s a very different track, not only because of the new, longer section here, but it looks like they added some new concrete in some portions of the track,” Pobst said. “Turn Seven through Turn Nine is new concrete, and that felt pretty low grip to me. I’m very happy we were able to put the K-PAX Volvo into second.
“I was giving it all I had on that last lap. I slowed down to cool the tires off and then put in a good lap. I think that’s where we’re at today. We’re going to start second, in an excellent position. The forecast looks rainy, which could be good for us.”
The GT Drivers’ Championship leader, James Sofronas will take the green flag on the inside of row two. In his No. 14 GMG/Mobil 1Audi R8, Sofronas turned in a lap of 1:34.372 (89.645 mph).
“This weekend could be a total crap shoot with the rain coming in, so it’s going to be about survival,” Sofronas said. “The GMG Audi R8 has great balance. So, if we can all keep it clean, and the race stays dry, we can make it to the end in good shape.”
O’Connell’s teammate, Andy Pilgrim turned a time that put him fourth on the grid. He completed a lap of 1:34.769 (89.269 mph) in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R.
Alex Figge completes the top five starting positions for Saturday’s Round Six, with a lap of 1:35.190 (88.874 mph), in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60.