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PWC: Long Beach, Qualifying, Parente Sticks K-Pax On Pole

Alvaro Parente posted the fastest GT time in Saturday morning’s 30-minute Qualifying session at Long Beach, part of the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. Martin Fuentes posted the fastest time in GTA.

The 30-minute qualifying session was held under sunny, 55 degree temperatures. The top 13 cars based on the combined fastest times from Friday’s and Saturday’s practice sessions took to the track first for a 15-minute session.

Early on, O’Connell topped the charts with a 1:19.228, followed by Parente who posted a 1:19.634. Thompson then slotted into second with a 1:19.634. In GTA, Fuentes topped the charts early with a 1:20.184.

At the four-minute mark, O’Connell bettered his time to a 1:18.955. Parente then went to the top near the end of the first session with a 1:18.947.

The fastest time set in the second group was Cindric’s 1:19.969 good for 10th on the grid. The second session was red flagged briefly with five minutes remaining as Cindric brushed the tire wall through turn 1 and was initally unable to restart the car.

Of note, Michael Cooper, the GT championship points leader coming into Long Beach did not post a qualifying time due to an engine breathing issue with his #8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.

The top four in GT (Parente, O’Connell, Thompson, Long) all eclipsed the previous qualifying track record set in 2015 held by Olivier Beretta (1:19.313). It’s Parente’s first career GT PWC pole, while Fuentes scored his fifth consecutive GTA pole of the 2016 season. Results are provisional until posted final.

“It’s a great feeling to be on pole position,” said Parente. “We were so close in St. Petersburg, and we’ve been performing well all the time. This is great for K-PAX Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports. I’m happy to be in this position on a street track. I have raced on many street circuits around the world like Monaco and Macau. So I have some experience on streets. But this is my first ever appearance at Long Beach.”

“Everyone at Cadillac Racing does an amazing job, just eight-thousandths of a second off of pole,” said O’Connell. “You have to hand it to Parente and the K-PAX team, they have that McLaren working. I am excited about my Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. There is no strategy for a race like this. Long Beach is a UFC cage fight at 170 mph. You have to run as hard as you can, hit your marks and make no mistakes for 50-minutes.

“Usually we are pretty good at that on race weekends.”

Drivers now get set for Sunday’s Round 5 race, scheduled for green flag at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern.