In St. Petersburg on Friday morning, Daniel Mancinelli claimed the overall pole for Saturday’s Round No. 1 for Pirelli World Challenge’s GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes in his GTA-class No. 31 Ferrari 488 GT3 for TR3 Racing. The pole was a complete surprise for a couple of reasons. One, Mancinelli chose to skip the one timed practice session on Thursday. Second, Mancinelli has somewhat limited experience in closed-cockpits cars as much of his experience is in open-wheel racing. However, the 28-year old Italian has been racing GT3-spec Ferraris for the past couple of years with a degree of success in Italy.
Given his near complete lack of American racing experience (including no previous Pirelli World Challenge starts), Mancinelli was classified in the GTA class. That classification apparently won’t last for long.
According to SportsCar365.com’s John Dagys, WC Vision (parent company of Pirelli World Challenge) officials have already re-classified Mancinelli to the GT class.
— John Dagys (@johndagys) March 10, 2017
For Mancinelli, getting re-classified prior to the first race of the season is likely a good thing. In past years, drivers that have been re-classified from GTA to GT in the middle of the season (Ex: Andrew Palmer, Michael Lewis) have had to start from scratch in the point standings. The points that they would have earned in GTA would not have carried over.
Mancinelli’s lap of 73.953 seconds (87.623 mph) is over 1.4 seconds slower than Adderly Fong‘s quick time from Thursday. There’s a reason for that. Overnight, turn 3 was tightened significantly in response to a series of wrecks caused by a nasty bump. The start of the session was delayed as work was completed.
Mancinelli ended up four-hundredths of a second faster than Magnus Racing’s Pierre Kaffer in second. Kaffer actually tied with K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente, but got the position because his second fastest lap was faster than Parente’s second fastest lap. R. Ferri Motorsports’ Alex Riberas was fourth quickest in the No. 61 Ferrari, while Patrick Long was fifth.
With Mancinelli reportedly promoted, the GTA pole will be taken by Alec Udell, who qualified 13th overall with a lap of 74.796 seconds (86.636 mph) in his GMG Racing-prepared Porsche. Udell was more than a half-second faster than Michael Schein in second. Mike Hedlund was third fastest, followed by James Sofronas and Pablo Perez Companc.
Neither of the two GT Cup entries turned in times during the session. As Preston Calvert also did not set a time in practice Thursday due to a crash in the untimed test session, Marko Radisic would likely start first.
Round 1 for the GT, GTA and GT Cup classes is scheduled for 9:35 a.m. Saturday. The race will be live-streamed for free online at World-Challenge.com, Motor Trend OnDemand and Motor Trend’s YouTube channel.