Pumpelly & RS1 Earn Another SportsCar Challenge Pole

Spencer Pumpelly captured the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport pole Thursday at Sebring Int'l Raceway. (IMSA Photo)

SEBRING, Fla. – Spencer Pumpelly put the No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR on the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport class pole for Friday’s Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring Int’l Raceway.

Pumpelly’s time of two minutes, 11.611 seconds (102.302 mph) was less than 0.06 of a second quicker than second-place Alexandre Premat in the No. 92 Ramsey Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. The pole makes Pumpelly two-for-two in Motul Pole Awards this year and comes on the heels of a victory for him and co-driver Dillon Machavern at the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona back in January.

“Lap after lap, we just got a little more stable in the rear and I was able to lean on it a little harder,” Pumpelly said of his qualifying run. “On that last lap, I heard ‘Purple’ twice and I knew we had a shot at it and I was fortunate enough to get the car to do what I wanted it to do at every given second and, boy, I eeked it out over another really good driver in a good car with a good team.

“And hats off to the Rennsport One guys. I think this team is showing last year wasn’t a fluke with the GS championship. We’re here to win, we’re one of the teams to beat and tomorrow should be exciting.”

In the TCR class, Compass Racing continues to roll as well, with the Toronto-based team claiming its second consecutive pole of 2018. Britt Casey Jr. in the No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS, posted a fastest lap of two minutes, 16.415 seconds (98.699 mph) for his first career IMSA pole, and will seek the car’s second victory of the season with co-driver Tom Long, after the duo took the checkered flag at the BMW Endurance Challenge.

In fact, the three Compass Racing Audis placed 1-2-3 in the 15-minute qualifying session on Thursday evening, with the No. 74 of rookie Rodrigo Sales starting second and the No. 75 of Roy Block in third. Sales’ co-driver, Kuno Wittmer, took the pole at Daytona.

“The (No.) 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS, it’s pretty fast today, it’s been fast all weekend,” Casey said. “We brought a lot of momentum in here after winning at Daytona. I think the crew guys showed up and immediately, I could just tell everyone had a positive attitude and everyone was looking forward to ‘Okay, what’s going to happen this weekend? How are we going to back that up with something else?’ We did it today. Qualifying is qualifying, it’s not the race but we’re starting from the best place possible.”

Leading the Street Tuner class to green will be Nate Norenberg in the No. 37 MINI JCW, who collected the first pole of his Continental Tire Challenge career with a lap of two minutes, 23.941 seconds (93.539 mph). The pole is a positive sign for the three-car MINI fleet, which is looking to bounce back from a disappointing showing at Daytona.

“I almost had pole at Daytona and we had an awesome race up until we had all the forays of mechanical stuff which is just unfortunate,” Norenberg said. “Coming to Sebring and having the cars survive and be strong, it’s awesome. We bounced back, we didn’t take it as a negative. We just threw it all aside and moved on to the next one.”

MINI also rounds out the front row with Mike LaMarra in the No. 73, while Daytona victors Nick Galante and co-driver Devin Jones will start third in the No. 81 BMW 328i.