March 11th, 2006/Monterey, CA. - The Hankook United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) teams started the 2006 season by racing at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca as a support race for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations. After track maintenance delays due to overnight rain showers, the A1GP on track action finally got underway late Saturday morning. The USTCC racing field took the track for their first qualifying session of the day.
Defending Driver’s Champion Dave Brown in his #8 Works/Le Mans Karting Mitsubishi Evo 8 proved once again that he will be the driver to beat, leading the first of two qualifying session of the day. But 2005 Second Place finisher Brian Lock in his brand new #93 Gruppe-S/DMS North America/GOTO Racing Subaru Legacy GT is not far behind. The two drivers have somewhat developed a friendly rivalry, separating the two by only mere 0.955 seconds. Brown posting a best lap time of 1:43.449 and Lock just right behind with 1:44.04.
But the biggest surprise of the day by far is USTCC new comer and Formula Drift star Tyler McQuarrie who qualified third with a 1:44.729 best lap time, only 0.325 seconds behind Brian Lock. McQuarrie is the new driver for the 2005 USTCC Championship team Opak Racing. McQuarrie pilots the #88 Spoon Sports/Opak Racing Acura RSX Type R.
Pete Bovenberg in his #94 MBO/PPG/McDonald’s Honda Civic with best lap time of 1:45.657 and Andy Chittum in his #17 Le Mans Karting BMW 328ti with the best lap time of 1:48.595 rounded up the Top 5 after the first qualifying session.
Most notable of the day is the US debut of the BMW E90 chassis (2006 325i) in a pro racing series. The car built by Mpact Motorsports and TC Design is driven by Dale Sievwright. Afterwards Sievwright said, “It was really hard to find the balance of the car in a car that had seen little testing. After getting used to being in the front, it is very frustrating to be in the middle of pack. But the future is bright for the car. With the help of Ground Control and Moton Shocks, we feel that the BMW E90 chassis could be one of the best handling cars in the series.”
After the qualifying session, the top three had this to say.
Dave Brown: “Goodsport Racing did an incredible job preparing this car that had never turned a lap until yesterday. Our plan was to slowly work the LeMans Karting Freemont, Works Evo 8 up to speed, make a few adjustments, and put in a few fast laps. We did two fast laps and took the pole.”
Brian Lock: “The track was incredibly unpredictable. There was mud and rivers flowing on the track. We got the Gruppe S/Racing Brake Subaru Legacy GT warmed up, then piped off one fast lap. I saw the lap time on the Motec System in the car, then decided to park it.”
Tyler McQuarrie: “The track was pretty good today given the weather conditions. We did seven laps in the Shark Energy Drink, Opak Racing, Spoon RSX, then came in, waited for traffic to clear, then went out did a fast lap and parked it.”