Race Weekend Central

Gabriele Piana Tops PWC St. Petersburg GTS Practices

Mühlner Motorsports America’s Gabriele Piana was fastest overall in the two GTS practice sessions Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Piana’s lap of 79.099 seconds (81.923 mph) in the afternoon session was the fastest GTS lap of the day.

Prior to the race weekend, a number of class shifts were made.  When the entry list was released, the class split was 10 GTS cars and 18 GTSA cars.  Now, it is 12 and 16.  Allegretta and Orey Fidani were shifted to the pro division in the past week.

Practice No. 1

In the morning session, Piana put his Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR at the top of the chart with a lap of 79.298 seconds (81.717 mph).  This came despite a period of time during the session that the car was “missing” according to timing and scoring.

Piana’s lap was nearly three-eighths of a second faster than PF Racing’s Jade BufordJames Sofronas was third in the No. 14 Audi, followed by defending champion Lawson AschenbachVinnie Allegretta was fifth quickest.

In GTSA, Blackdog Speed Shop owner/driver Tony Gaples was fastest in class.  Gaples circulated the 1.8-mile course in 80.470 seconds (80.527 mph) in his Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, good enough for sixth overall.  Gaples’ lap was seven-hundredths of a second faster than Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW’s Toby Grahovec in his GTSA debut.  Jeff Courtney was third quickest in his Maserati, followed by Mike Hedlund in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi.  Precision Driving’s Marko Radisic was fifth quickest.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG GTS/GTSA PRACTICE NO. 1 RESULTS

Practice No. 2

In the afternoon session, Piana was once again fastest overall with his lap of 79.099 seconds.  That lap was more than a quarter of a second faster than Buford.  Aschenbach was third quickest, followed by Sofronas and Allegretta.

In GTSA, Ian Lacy Racing’s Drew Staveley was quickest with a lap of 80.038 seconds (80.962 mph).  Staveley’s lap was good enough for fourth overall.  This performance could put Staveley in line for a mid-weekend class change.  Something similar occurred last year at Utah Motorsports Campus after turning in laps near the top of the charts.

Staveley’s lap was nine-tenths of a second faster than Grahovec in second.  GMG Racing’s George Kurtz was third in the Crowdstrike Audi, followed by Hedlund.  Mark Klenin rounded out the top five.

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG PRACTICE NO. 2 RESULTS

GTS and GTSA teams are scheduled to qualify Saturday morning at 9:40 a.m.  Race No. 1 is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. and will be livestreamed at World-Challenge.com.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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