Pumpelly Puts RS1 Porsche On Pole At Daytona

Spencer Pumpelly nabbed the pole for Friday's IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge opener. (IMSA Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Spencer Pumpelly put the RS1 No. 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR on the pole for Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Pumpelly’s time of one minute, 55.136 seconds (111.306 mph) on Thursday bested the previous track record in the Grand Sport class, set last year by Dean Martin in a Ford Mustang, by .618 of a second.

“Big thanks to Daniel Morad,” Pumpelly said. “I got a little tow from him coming across the start-finish, and I followed him all the way through the first half. He had a little issue coming out of the infield, and I thought maybe it would slow me up, but sure enough, he slid right out of my way, so it was a big advantage. The rest of it was just trying to maintain what I gained and we were able to do that. It was a good lap, a good team, a good car and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

The new year marks Pumpelly’s fourth season with RS1, which coincidentally won its first race in Continental Tire Challenge competition – at Daytona – in 2015.

“Right away, I knew the team had some good, solid foundation underneath it,” said Pumpelly, who with Luis Rodriguez Jr. brought home the victory in 2015. “But any new team is going to have some area where they’re rough around the edges and I think our first year, we fought mechanical reliability. But once we kind of learned the car and figured out what we needed, we were able to come back and win a championship and had a decent season last year as well.

“To move up to GS with the team, having the team just focusing on two cars, I think the team is much more cohesive now. Not that it wasn’t before, but it’s more so. I just feel like we have all the tools that we need, all the people that we need and the atmosphere is great.”

In the TCR class, Kuno Wittmer also picked up where he left off from the 2017 season. After scoring a victory in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans portion of the Motul Petit Le Mans in October, Wittmer’s move to the Continental Tire Challenge paddock with Compass Racing has proven to be a good choice, as he posted the fastest lap in the inaugural TCR qualifying session.

In the No. 74 Audi RS3 LMS, Wittmer posted a lap time of two minutes, .550 seconds (106.307 mph).

“We were chasing some gremlins yesterday and Compass 360 and Audi Sport, they found it, so thanks to them,” Wittmer said. “The car is good. I think we’re pumped and we’re ready for tomorrow. Now, it’s all about race prep, let’s get the driver changes done and four smooth hours.”

A Quebec native, Wittmer’s transition to Toronto-based Compass 360 signifies a closer connection than most driver-team relationships and his perception of TCR also adds inspiration.

“After leaving BMW Motorsport from GTLM, it was maybe time to find a new venture, maybe something that’s new for the future,” said Wittmer. “I think TCR and the GT4 platform are going to be the future in my opinion, so why not start early? Why not get into it and get to know how everything works?

“Karl (Thomson, Team Principal) and Ray (Lee, Technical Director), we started talking last year, roughly midseason. They were explaining their strategy on what they want to do this year – three cars, the whole thing, so it was very attractive. For me, it was no hesitation. If I leave one camp, it’s to go to another that’s also really competitive and that’s how we all got together. I’m really looking forward to the season.”

Wrapping up the Motul Pole Awards was Devin Jones in the Street Tuner class with the fastest lap time of two minutes, 4.217 seconds (103.169 mph). Jones is also entering his first season with BimmerWorld Racing in the No. 81 BMW 328i and joins former RS1 driver Nick Galante.

“Joining BimmerWorld has been awesome,” Jones said. “(Team owner) James Clay and everybody over there, they run such a good organization, they have so much experience with this car – the three series – and they’ve got this thing hooked up. We haven’t had to do much to it, they’ve done so much development with this car. I’ve just kind of come in and it’s been ready to go from the start.

“Tomorrow is a long race. Four hours is a long time, so a lot can happen. We’ll just do our thing and settle in and have Nick get in there. Nick’s been awesome all week and through the Roar, and we’ve all been close in lap times, so it should be a great for us. I’m looking forward to it.”