Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands points leader Kay van Berlo (Netherlands living in Miami, Florida) continued at the point of the field today during qualifying for this weekend’s third and fourth rounds at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The driver of the No. 3 Kelly Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car broke the one-minute, 20-second barrier on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit in the Southern California city with a blistering time of 1:19.985-seconds. The lap, the only sub-1:20 time, earned the University of Miami student the Pro class, and overall, pole position for Saturday’s first of two 40-minute races. The hot lap came near the heat of the day with temperatures over 95-degrees Fahrenheit. In the Pro-Am category, Justin Oakes (Houston, Texas) earned his first career pole position in the premier one-make series with a time of 1:21.602 behind the wheel of the No. 47 Nolasport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car while Mark Kvamme (Columbus, Ohio) continued his string of Am-class pole positions in the No. 43 MDK Motorsports Porsche (1:23.241).
Due to the large field of 34 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, all type 992 generation, series officials opted to split the qualifying into two groups. The first group was reserved for the Pro-Am and Am classes where Oakes and Kvamme each shined on the narrow, wall-lined circuit. After 15-minutes, it was the Pro class drivers’ opportunity to set the pace. The top-spot rotated between the leading contenders in the class with van Berlo narrowly bettering the 1:20.025-lap set by Trenton Estep (San Antonio, Texas) in the No. 6 MDK Motorsport Porsche. Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) also pushed his Kelly Moss teammate for the pole but will grid on the inside of Row Two in the third-position. Veteran Leh Keen’s lap of 1:20.433 gave the Atlanta, Georgia-resident the fourth-spot in the No. 12 311RS Motorsports. Parker Thompson (Canada) closes out the top-five with a lap time of 1:20.501 in the JDX Racing Porsche.
The fastest lap by each driver in qualifying sets the grid for the first race of the weekend. The second fastest lap by each driver acts as the qualifying time for the second race to be run on Sunday. Should a driver better their second best time during the race, the faster of the two will act as the qualifying time.
34-Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars will start in tomorrow’s race. This weekend is the first time the Grand Prix of Long Beach has been a part of the all-Porsche race series and the first time any street course has been on the schedule. Round 3 will take the green flag on Saturday, April 9 at 10:45 a.m. California time. Round 4 will start on Sunday, April 10 at 4:20 p.m. California time.
Kay van Berlo, No. 3 Kelly Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“Super happy with the result. This was my first qualifying at a street track. It is about building up slowly. The car went quicker and quicker and I realized I could improve every corner bit-by-bit. Long Beach is amazing. It was fun in practice but in qualifying when you put new tires on, you push a little extra it makes it even better. Qualifying is important, you want to start in front of the field to put yourself out of a risky position. The two races are where we will find the points, but I am super happy to be able to start on pole. 40-minutes will be long, temperatures are supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow which will suit us a little better as drivers, but I am looking forward to a clean race, bringing home some good points and having fun out there.”
Justin Oakes, No. 47 Nolasport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“Quite overwhelmed. I am new to Porsche and new to the series. They told me when I crossed the start-finish line we had pole and it is quite an achievement. I am really proud we could deliver something meaningful at Long Beach. It is an incredible track. I think of things in terms of pictures and videos and this place is so cinematic. It is just beautiful. It is a technical track. It’s high risk, obviously. It makes you be a disciplined driver. The competition here is incredibly strong and we were able to do it. The dream is track position. Starting on pole is a huge advantage. It is difficult to pass at Long Beach. Pole is where everybody here wants to be, and we got it.”
Mark Kvamme, No. 43 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“This is such an iconic race. It has been fabulous. To be on the track is phenomenal. We normally have runoffs but our runoff here is a cement wall, so you have to be as close to the cement wall as possible without touching it. This track changes every time you drive it. In the morning you have the Formula Drift [series] rubber, in the afternoon you have a little bit of Michelin rubber and for qualifying you have the Indy car rubber, so it is a different track every time. I’ll go out tomorrow and see how lap one and two go and feel my groove and go from there.”