8Star Motorsports qualified on pole position for the second consecutive TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race, the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas (19 September).
Sean Rayhall, who is sharing the car with Luis ‘Chapulin’ Diaz, only had a couple of laps after a shortened qualifying session, but grabbed pole position with a convincing six tenths margin over the second-placed runner.
A troubled first practice session on Thursday afternoon (18 September) provided little opportunity for Rayhall and Diaz to get a feel for the #25 Prototype Challenge (PC) machine on the Circuit of the Americas.
After some laps, a 2m04.040s by Rayhall was good for a sixth on the timesheets, although second practice went much better for the 8Star Motorsports team, which finished fifth with a best time of 2m03.524s.
The Pompano Beach-based squad showed much improvement during the third and final practice outing, as Mexico City’s Diaz started the session and consistently frequented the top spots on a damp but drying track.
Conditions continued improving and some changes were made to the car, opening the door for Rayhall to record consecutive personal best laptimes and end the session in third place, with a much-improved 2m01.861s.
Rayhall, who had been the quicker of the two drivers for most of the weekend, was the one to qualify the Takis-backed 8star Motorsports machine and a red-flag stoppage meant the Winston, Georgia-domiciled racer had a very narrow window in which to get up-to-speed.
Green flags signaled the restart and, with under five minutes to run, Rayhall stepped on the gas to take a convincing pole position, his time of 2m00.528s almost six tenths of a second faster than his nearest challenger.
“I am really proud of this 8Star Motorsports Takis crew and, getting two pole positions in a row is a huge achievement,” said Rayhall. “We really made a wholesale change – it was kind of go big or go home – and Technical Director, Yves Touron, made the right call. Being on pole here at Circuit of the Americas by over half a second says a lot about our Continental Tires, which came in quickly and allowed me to push during those couple of laps.”
Diaz added: “We are really happy! We came here with great expectations and, even though we started the weekend with some problems, we never panicked and the 8Star guys Sean (Rayhall) and I the best car. Tomorrow I hope to stay up front and build as much of an advantage as possible before handing the car over to Sean, and fight for the win here at Circuit of the Americas.”
Lone Star Le Mans, Round 9 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, is scheduled to begin at 12.30 EDT on Saturday (20 September) and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2.