Nick Tandy, of Bedfordshire, England and Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, have captured the pole positions in GT and GTS for the Pirelli World Challenge at Honda Indy Toronto, Round 9 of the 2014 season. Additionally, Albert von Thurn und Taxis, of Regensburg, Germany, was the fastest driver in the GT-A classification.
Tandy, making his series debut in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R, engaged in a great scrap with fellow first-time 2014 Pirelli World Challenge racer Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Quebec for the top spot.
Tandy was first into the 1:09s at the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place track at 1:09.703. Wittmer, in the No. 92 Dodge/SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R, then lowered the mark to a 1:09.607. But Tandy responded with the ultimate pole time of 1:09.462 – easily a new track record.
"I'd asked to be continually updated on times throughout the session," Tandy said. "I thought we'd be doing around this sort of lap time. I knew I'd have to pull something out of the bag. Two laps were pretty good, one was good enough for the pole. It's a good improvement from where we started at the front of the weekend."
Wittmer, making his first series start since 2010, will start second. Meanwhile Anthony Lazzaro, of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Audi R8 Ultra also got into the 1:09 range. Lazzaro and Skeen are both winners this season and will share Row 2.
Points leader and defending Toronto race winner Johnny O'Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V.R, will start fifth with a best time of 1:10.253. The top six on the GT grid eclipsed O'Connell's previous track record of 1:10.304, set last season.
Von Thurn und Taxis makes his return to the series for the first time since Round 1 at St. Petersburg, and had the seventh best overall time of 1:10.342 in the No. 24 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo FL2. Henrik Hedman, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in the No. 10 DragonSpeed Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Michael Mills, of Angleton, Texas, in the No. 41 EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 R start second and third in GT-A.
"It was great, great fun," von Thurn und Taxis said. "Some water on the track, at I think the ninth corner, meant we had to take it easy towards the end. But it's an incredible track and a bunch of really lovely people. It's an honor to be here." Water was released from a tire barrier earlier in the session because of contact from two other cars.
The GTS qualifying session was a little more straightforward with the fast times coming early in the session, led by the Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports teammates of Wilkins, in the No. 38 PutOnTheBrakes.org Kia Optima and Nic Jonsson, of Buford, Ga., in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Kia Optima. Wilkins' time of 1:15.381 is also a new track record, as he led the top 10 drivers in eclipsing the previous mark of 1:16.726. Wilkins' pole is his second this season (Round 8, Road America) and fourth of his career.
"Heading into tomorrow, my concern if anything is the pace of some of the GT-A cars," Wilkins said. "Some guys at the back of the field are not that far off our lap times. Their tires take some time to come up. We don't want a result like Detroit, where a GT car splits us up if it doesn't get going and impacts our start."
Wilkins, who trailed Jonsson by one point entering the weekend, seeks a home race victory and his second win of the season.
"It would be great. This is the race I've always wanted to win," Wilkins said. "Tomorrow we'll work together and provide the best result we can for Kia. It's focused on the manufacturer's race and delivering to Kia what they've given us."
Behind the Kia teammates, Drew Regitz of Denver, Col. turned in a career-best qualifying effort in the No. 02 TRG-AMR North America Aston Martin GT4. Regitz, who had a best prior start of sixth, will line up third for Saturday's Round 9.
Jack Baldwin, of Marietta, Ga., in the No. 73 RESET-MD Porsche Cayman S and Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, Col., in the No. 20 Crown Seven/BestIT Chevrolet Camaro round out the top five.
Saturday's 50-minute Round 9 of the season will go green from a standing start at 11:25 a.m. ET. Live streaming begins on www.world-challengetv.com at 11:05 a.m. ET.