By Steve Wittich

Qualifying for the first of three Pro Mazda races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course began under partly cloudy skies when the 14 Mazda Renesis powered entries took to the 2.258-mile, 13-Turn natural terrain road course.

Team Pelfrey’s Carlos Cunha was the early leader, but by the time the 20 minute qualifying session hit the half-way point it was the two championship contenders, Victor Franzoni and Anthony Martin who had the quickest lap times. Martin, who trailed Franzoni by seven points coming into the triple-header, was a full three-tenths of a second ahead of the Brazilian.

Franzoni came to the attention of his Juncos Racing crew with one-third of the session remaining, but he was not able to improve his quickest lap time. In fact, it was the reigning USF2000 Champion, who won two races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in USF2000 last year, that went quicker.

However, the Australians spot as the provisional pole-sitter did not last long. With two minutes left in the session and Martin already on pit lane, it was Cunha who went to the provisional pole with a blistering lap of 69.257 seconds,  stealing the important bonus point from Martin, and scoring his first career Mazda Road To Indy presented by Cooper Tire pole.

Martin will start on the outside of the front row beside Cunha, who will have fellow Brazilian Franzoni directly behind him. Starting in fourth will be TJ Fischer, who had a nice recovery, after missing most of yesterday’s testing and practice with an engine issue.

Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Allied Building Products Qualifying #1 Results

1 81 Carlos Cunha 1:19.257 –.—-
2 8 Anthony Martin 1:19.386 0.1294
3 23 Victor Franzoni 1:19.890 0.6332
4 82 TJ Fischer 1:20.344 1.0877
5 80 Nikita Lastochkin 1:20.486 1.2289
6 6 Max Hanratty 1:21.779 2.5227
7 12 Kris Wright 1:21.853 2.5961
8 57 Bob Kaminsky 1:22.054 2.7976
9 13 Bobby Eberle 1:22.754 3.4973
10 60 Jeff Green 1:23.695 4.4384
11 31 Brendan Puderbach 1:24.304 5.0470
12 14 Sting Ray Robb 1:24.589 5.3324
13 2 Dave Zavelson 1:26.073 6.8162
14 5 Kevin Bury 1:29.867 10.6106
15 83 Charles Finelli No Time