Memo Rojas will start on the pole for the Mexico City 250 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after posting a record-breaking lap time in front of his countrymen in qualifying for the latest round of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Rojas, who currently leads the standings by 13 points along with co-driver Scott Pruett, posted a time of 1min 19.508secs in the #01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley to knock nearly a second-and-a-half off last year's mark. The pole was Rojas' first in 16 career Grand-Am starts, and the team's first since last September at Miller Motorsports Park. Having collected the XPEL Pole Award, Rojas and Pruett will now look to secure their third straight win of 2008.
“I'm really happy to have won my first Rolex Series pole here in Mexico, but it was a great effort by the team," Rojas said, "We struggled with chassis set-up, but thankfully we made the right decisions towards the end of the last practice session and in qualifying. We'll see tomorrow. The race has yet to start and we've got a lot of work to do.”
Outside front row starter Mark Wilkins also earned his first such start, taking second spot with a time of 1min 19.537secs - only 0.029 seconds behind Rojas - in the #61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley.
“We worked very hard this weekend," Wilkins admitted, "We elected to go with a little bit more downforce to help us in some of the tighter sections of the track and that paid off well for us in qualifying. I think we're going to have to go back and think about it a little bit more for the race, but the guys gave me a great car and the Ford is a great engine. I'm very excited about the race tomorrow.”
Rojas became the third driver in as many Daytona Prototype races this season to score a pole and one of the others, David Donohue, who recorded the pole in last month's GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead, qualified third in Mexico in the #58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
That put him ahead of defending race champion Jon Fogarty's #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley and Burt Frisselle in the #47 Doran Racing Ford Dallara. In all, ten drivers posted times faster than last year's qualifying record set by NASCAR convert Colin Braun.
In the earlier Rolex GT qualifying session, German Pierre Kaffer took the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 to his first career pole with a time of 1min 26.621secs. Former Audi prototype driver Kaffer, who is teaming with defending Rolex Series driving champion Dirk Werner this weekend to make his second start with Farnbacher Loles, is the third driver in as many races in 2008 to score a GT pole.
“Mexico is not that easy a circuit, and this is the first time I've driven it, but I've improved during every session," the German commented, "I did a long run this morning, and felt good prior to the qualifying session. In qualifying, we had everything together, and it worked. We didn't expect to be on the pole, but the team did a very good job between yesterday and today. We improved things in the set-ups, some small things, but the important thing was to not get in traffic and use the peak of the tyres. We did a good job with that.”