Race Weekend Central

Gabriele Piana Sets PWC GTS Track Record to Win St. Petersburg Pole

Mühlner Motorsports America’s Gabriele Piana continued his excellent form Saturday morning (March 10) in St. Petersburg, claiming the overall pole for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge GTS Race No. 1.  Piana’s pole time was a track record 78.454 seconds (82.596 mph).

Piana’s lap was nearly one-tenth of a second faster than GMG Racing’s James Sofronas.  PF Racing’s Jade Buford will start third in the fastest of the Ford Mustang GT4s, followed by defending GTS class champion Lawson Aschenbach.

Team Panoz Racing’s Ian James was fifth fastest in GTS, sixth overall in the session.  However, immediately after setting that time, James’ Panoz Avezzano GT4 stalled on course with what appeared to be an electrical issue.  That brought out the red flag that ended the session early.  As a result, James lost that time.  He will start ninth in GTS, 18th overall.

In GTSA, defending subclass champion George Kurtz was fastest with a lap of 79.150 seconds (81.870 mph), good enough for fifth overall.  That time was one-sixth of a second faster than Ian Lacy Racing’s Drew Staveley in the fastest of the Ginettas.  He’s currently seventh.

Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Mike Hedlund was third in GTSA, followed by Toby Grahovec.  Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples was fifth in GTSA, 14th overall.

In addition to the red flag for James’ issues, there was another red flag early in the session when JCR Motorsports’ Fred Roberts stalled his Maserati at the exit of turn 9.  As that is a fast portion of the course, the red flag was thrown very early in the session.  Roberts’ Maserati stalled on his out lap, so he never set a time.  If the car can be fixed, Roberts will start at the rear of the field in Race No. 1.


Race No. 1 for GTS and GTSA teams is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Saturday.  The race will be livestreamed at World-Challenge.com and on the WorldChallengeTV YouTube channel.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

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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