Pilgrim, Cunningham and Holland Lead World Challenge Practice at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., topped Friday’s lone World Challenge Championships practice session, both overall and in the GT class, in preparation for the Optima Batteries Mid-Ohio Grand Prix presented by GameStreamer at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Robb Holland, of Denver, Colo., topped the GTS and Touring Car classes, respectively.

Pilgrim, driving the No. 8 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60, completed his fastest lap in the last three minutes of the hour-long session after a red flag temporarily stopped practice with seven minutes remaining to retrieve the No. 25 RPMotorsports Ford Mustang FR500S GTS car of Ben Crosland from the gravel trap in turn 11.

With five minutes remaining, the session restarted and Pilgrim completed 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit in a best time of 1:26.651 (93.810 mph) to nip Mike Skeen, of Charlotte, N.C., who had held the lead for most of the session. Skeen, driving the No. 2 Carlisle Companies/Cragar Chevrolet Corvette that Ron Fellows piloted to wins at Mosport and Watkins Glen this season, finished second with a best time of 1:26.656 (93.805 mph) in his first official World Challenge appearance.

Pilgrim’s teammate, GT Drivers’ Championship leader Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., was third with a time of 1:26.955 (93.482 mph) in the No. 6 K-Pax Racing Volvo S60.

A pair of Porsches finished the session with the fourth and fifth best times in the session. Patrick Lindsey, driving the No. 57 Horton/Sloan Securities Porsche 911 GT3, posted a best time of 1:26.967 (93.470 mph). The No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 of James Sofronas completed the top five with a time of 1:27.039 (93.392 mph).

Just 0.388-second separated the top-five in GT practice.

Cunningham led GTS with a best time of 1:33.386 (87.045 mph) in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime Racing Acura TSX. The GTS Championship leader was more than a second ahead of teammate Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., who posted a time of 1:34.445 (86.069 mph) to finish second.

Ernie Jakubowski, of Oakville, Ont., was third in the GTS class in his No. 91 Fuchs/CDOC/Forgeline Porsche Cayman S. Jakubowski, who was runner-up in the previous round at Toronto, posted a best time of 1:36.574 (84.171 mph).

Despite spinning into the gravel late in the session, Crosland was the fastest of six participants from the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Series competing in the GTS class for the first time this weekend. The Salt Lake City-native posted a best time of 1:37.751 (83.158 mph) in the session.

Devin Cates ended the session in fifth after a time of 1:37.873 (83.054 mph) in the No. 68 Cates Engineering Ford Mustang FR500S.

Holland topped the Touring Car session in the No. 22 303 Motorsports/Track Pro/Emich VW Volkswagen GTI after posting a time of 1:38.069 (82.888 mph). It’s just the fourth World Challenge appearance this season for Holland, who finished on the podium in Mosport’s second race.

In a memorable World Challenge debut, Ryan Eversley, of Atlanta, Ga., turned the second-fastest Touring Car lap of the session in the No. 20 Maxwell Paper Products Mazda RX-8 at 1:38.532 (82.499 mph).

Defending Mid-Ohio race winner in the Touring Car category, Fort Worth, Texas’s Jason Saini, was third in the No. 03 Team MER/Sparco/SafeRacer MAZDASPEED3. This weekend’s doubleheader is the first World Challenge appearance in 2010 for Saini, who posted a best time of 1:38.535 (82.496 mph) in the session.

Toronto race-winner Nick Wittmer was fourth in the No. 93 HPD/HondaRacing/RealTime Honda Civic Si with a time of 1:38.865 (82.221 mph). Touring Car Championship leader Robert Stout was fifth, posting a time of 1:38.878 (82.210 mph) in the No. 18 DG-Spec/Scion/TRD/Lucas Oil Scion tC.

The World Challenge Championships GT, GTS and Touring Car classes return to qualify this afternoon at 12:03 p.m. EDT to set the grid for Saturday afternoon’s race.

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