The No. 34 Kleinschmidt/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette topped the standings yesterday during the first round of practice sessions before the World Challenge GT season opener at Sebring International Raceway this Friday. Driver Tony Gaples of Libertyville, Ill., was just as surprised at his finish as anyone.
"It feels pretty good [to be on top], of course, but it also makes me a little nervous," Gaples said of his unfamiliar position. "I'm wondering why, because I'm just driving like normal.
"The track was a little slippery, which plays into my benefit, because I'm used to driving in the wet. It's good to be at the top. We've been coming here seven years now. It's my favorite flat track and we usually do pretty well here. It still surprised me that we're number one though. We get to enjoy for the next eight hours, until the next practice. We always hope to do well, whether that's what's happening or not is yet to be seen."
Gaples ran a 2:11.686 around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring course on his second to last lap.
The 2nd and 3rd spots for the day belonged to Porsches with Rob Morgan posting a 2:11.771 in his No. 47 EverCleanse/NADA/TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 and Tony Rivera finishing with a best of 2:11.855 in the No. 97 Tax Masters/Mirage Group Porsche 911 GT3.
Gunter Schaldach grabbed 4th with a 2:12.083 in the No. 9 Lala Motorsports Dodge Viper with another Corvette (the No.3 Whelen Engineering machine driven by Eric Curran) rounding out the top five.
With surprises at the top of the pack, there were also plenty of surprises at the bottom with defending GT champ Randy Pobst completing just half a lap in his K-PAX Volvo S60. Other series frontrunners, Andy Pilgrim (Volvo S60), James Sofronas (Porsche 911 GT3) and Dino Crescentini (Porsche 911 GT3)never even got onto the track.
As for the lone Lamborghini entry, the No. 7 Gallardo driven by Dan Pastorini, it finished a distant 20th with a time of 2:30.707.
More: Corvette Fastest in First 2009 World Challenge GT Practice