Piana Fastest While at First Race in United States, Carbonell Continues Mazda’s Momentum in Street Tuner
Friday, August 4, 2017

The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge returned to track Friday in primarily wet conditions at Road America in two practice sessions ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying and Road America 120, the seventh of 10 rounds on the 2017 schedule.

Muehlner Motorsports America, in Grand Sport (GS) with an all-new driver lineup in its No. 21 Porsche Cayman GT4, consistently turned fast laps in both sessions and posted the best time of the day at two minutes, 35.841 seconds in the morning session.

Moritz Kranz and Gabriele Piana were slotted into the car for this weekend only days ago. Kranz, who competed with the team in this year’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring, has one previous race in the United States on his résumé and for Piana, who was credited with the fastest lap, tomorrow’s Road America 120 will be his maiden race in the United States.

“Nowadays, you can train a little bit on the simulator, but I didn’t have time for that so I just started taking notes on videos yesterday in the hauler,” said Piana. “Both of us just came in with no expectations. We just had to go out and do what we can.”

Piana connected with Muehlner last year at Circuit of The Americas, assisting with driver coaching and helping to install an advanced telemetry system that his team in Europe utilized.

“For this race, it turns out he needed drivers and first of all, Moritz was the natural choice because he’s racing with Bernhard in VLN in Germany,” he said. “Then you have to ask him why he called me instead of somebody else. He sent me a text when I was at the 24 Hours of Spa, and he told me, ‘Yeah this is happening and do you have time?’ I said ‘Yeah, I will make time.’”

Kranz and Piana finished the afternoon’s practice behind only the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R of Matt Bell and Robin Liddell, who are riding a two-race win streak in the class.

In Street Tuner (ST), the Freedom Autosport pack continues to show its speed, coming off a pole and subsequent win at Lime Rock Park just two weeks ago.

In the afternoon practice session at Road America, Andrew Carbonell in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5 posted the fastest ST lap of the day at two minutes, 44.103 seconds. He and co-driver Liam Dwyer will be going for their first win of the season tomorrow, having a best finish of fourth so far in 2017.

“I think the most entertaining thing about racing in the rain is that no two laps are the same,” Carbonell said. “Every lap is different and as the track dried throughout the session, you had to change everything you did.

“The Freedom Autosport guys have done a great job. Our Mazda MX-5 has been on rails. It’s pretty satisfying to put an MX-5 at the front, at the point of the field here at Road America which is not historically great for us. But I’m happy to bring the momentum into tomorrow’s qualifying and see how we can do.”

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Road America 120 is slated for 10:45 a.m. CT, with the race going green at 4:30 p.m. CT.