Pobst hits the ground running (or autocrossing) at Detroit (Weber image).
Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., topped Friday practice for Round Eight of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT Championship at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, in the series first return to the island since 2001. Team Remington Cadillac teammates Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Michael McCann, of Canton, Ohio, were second and third fastest, respectively.
Pobst led the 20-minute practice session from the get go in his No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3. While he continued to improve throughout the session until setting a fast lap of 1:33.528 (79.676 mph) around the 14-turn, 2.07-mile temporary street circuit, his opening lap also remained untouched when the checkered flag fell on the session.
Having never turned a wheel on the latest Belle Isle street circuit configuration, Pobst credited is out-of-the-box speed to his talented crew and autocrossing roots.
“Number one is Will Moody and K-PAX/3R Racing,” Pobst said. “We’ve got a heck of a setup. Number two, I think the Porsche is well-suited to this track because of its short wheelbase and, with the weight of the engine over the drive wheels, you can really accelerate out of the slow corners. Number three is SCCA Solo—that”s my roots.
“It’s only the first practice. I’m not going to get carried away and start lighting candles and start sending up bottle rockets in celebration. But, I had a great time and I’m in my element. I’m not taking chances. The car is handling so well that I can drive it hard without much risk. That’s a credit to K-PAX Racing and Will, the ‘Mad Scientist’ engineer.”
Pobst felt his experience autocrossing through tight, cone-marked parking lot courses gave him an advantage on street courses like Belle Isle.
“The turns [here] are slow. Road racers are not usually used to doing slow turns one after another. They are used to bigger sweepers and much higher speeds. We spend a lot of time in second gear on this track, far more than we would on most road race circuits.
“The other reason is that the track does not look like one, winding piece of roadway. The turn-in points, braking points, apexes are all points. It’s almost like pylons. You’ve got to pick the line and ignore what the road looks like. That’s like autocrossing through offset gates.
“On the other hand, I haven’t run an autocross in 10 years, but [SCCA Solo] is where I grew up.”
Competing in front General Motors’ hometown crowd this weekend, teammates Pilgrim and McCann completed the top three in practice. Pilgrim entered a 1:34.718 (78.675 mph) in the No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V, while McCann was able to turn a 1:34.873 (78.547 mph) in the No. 16 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V.
Michael Galati, of Olmsted, Ohio, was fourth fastest in the No. 23 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3. Galati’s quickest lap of the session was a 1:35.337 (78.164 mph).
The No. 5 Coastal Pet Products Dodge Viper of Jason Daskalos completed the top five. Daskalos, of Albuquerque, N.M., clocked a 1:35.532 (78.005 mph) around Belle Isle.
James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3), Brandon Davis (Ford Mustang Cobra), Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3), Joey Scarallo (Pontiac GTO) and former Trans-Am Champion Brian Simo (Dodge Viper) completed the top 10.
The second SCCA SPEED GT practice session is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 30, at 5:40 p.m. (EDT). Qualifying and the Round Eight race will take place on Sunday, Aug. 31. Live timing and lap notes are available throughout the weekend at www.world-challenge.com. The race will air Sept. 12, at noon (EDT) on SPEED.