There have been no repeat winners so far in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Prototype division through four events, but that is unlikely to be repeated on Saturday, if qualifying for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Raceway at Belle Isle near Detroit on Friday showed anything. Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi, who along with Joao Barbosa claimed the overall victory in March at Sebring, snagged the head spot on the starting grid with a one minute, 24.746 second pass of the 2.35 mile street circuit, just enough to edge reigning Detroit winners Wayne Taylor Racing and driver Ricky Taylor by just five one hundredths of a second.
The second time race winner in 2015 is likely to be a Chevrolet Corvette DP runner, as along with AXR and Taylor, Laguna Seca winners Visitflorida.com Racing will lineup on the inside of the second row with Michael Valiente handling qualifying. The first non-Chevy is the Ford EcoBoost turbocharged Riley DP of Chip Ganassi Racing starting fourth. As was the case at the first TUSCC street race of 2015 at Long Beach, the Daytona Prototypes decisively outclassed the LMP-2 eligible cars, which were led by Michael Shank Racing’s Ligier-Honda coupe. Despite the best efforts of John Pew, the No. 60 MSR machine will lineup sixth on the grid, a full two seconds off the fast lap posted by Fittipaldi.
Based on qualifying in the Prototype Challenge class, a new race winner could be crowned on Saturday as Brent O’Neill’s Performance Tech Motorsports squad will start from the class pole on Saturday, thanks to the efforts of up and coming driver James French. It was a close shave for the pole however, French narrowly edged RSR Racing’s Chris Cumming for P1 by only four one thousandths of a second.
With the remainder of the PC grid more than a second behind the top two, it would seem that it would be a two-car duel for victory on Saturday. However, with PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports and CORE autosport among those behind them, the battle for PC honors still appears to be wide open.
Finally in the GT Daytona division, Audi looks to be on the verge of a major turnaround, after a frustrating start to 2015 in the TUSCC. After closing out the 2014 campaign by winning the Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta, Paul Miller Racing has been off target in the opening three events featuring the baby grand touring division in 2015, however they will lead the field to the green flag Saturday after the talented Dion Von Moltke claimed the TOTAL Pole Award by nearly three-quarters of a second, an unusually large gap in the hotly contested class.
The three previous GTD class winners in 2015 are in the first five, led by the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper of Ben Keating, who along with Jeroen Bleekemolen claimed the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. The story on Saturday though, could feature an injection of girl power, as Christina Nielsen will start third in the TRG Motorsports Aston Martin V12 Vantage. A woman has yet to claim a class win in the TUSCC, while it has been over a decade since Liz Halliday became the last woman to do so in American Le Mans Series LMP-2 competition at Portland International Raceway.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for full coverage of Saturday’s TUSCC race.