Reigning Pirelli World Challenge champion Alvaro Parente cruised to victory on the streets of Long Beach, California for K-PAX Racing in its #9 McLaren 650S GT3 earlier today. The result marks Parente’s second win of the season after winning the opener at St Petersburg last month, and his second win in as many races at Long Beach after scoring his maiden PWC win there in 2016.
The win followed a red-hot performance in Qualifying for the Portuguese GT ace on Saturday, in which he lapped the circuit in 1:18.883 – breaking the lap record he set in 2016 – to score pole position by a tenth.
From his front-row spot, Parente pulled away from the chasing pack before the red flags came out for a burst water pump on the back straight which flooded the circuit after 10 laps of racing. When the race started once again with just over 20 minutes remaining, Parente gapped the field at the drop of the flag once again, before a Full-Course Yellow was called for Mike Hedlund in the sister #98 K-PAX 650S GT3’s spin at the final hairpin, leaving him blocking pit-in.
At the final restart, Parente got the jump on Patrick Long’s Wright Motorsports Porsche behind one final time before setting the fastest lap of the race – a 1:19.070 – and crossing the line 2.8 seconds ahead of his title rival. It wasn’t the easiest of rides to the finish though, as the Porsche factory driver managed to put the pressure on in the final 10 minutes while running three tenths behind, before giving up the fight in the final few laps.
Finishing third was the #6 K-PAX Racing McLaren of Bryan Sellers, who had an impressive performance in Qualifying also. Sellers pushed hard, but was unable to challenge Long for second; instead, settling for his first podium with the team, crossing the line 4.5 seconds behind Parente at the end.
Behind, a pair of Ferrari 488 GT3s rounded out the top five, with the TR3 488 of Daniel Mancinelli leading Alex Riberas’ ‘Prancing Horse’ from R.Ferri.
Winning GTA after finishing down in 10th overall was the GMG Racing Porsche of James Sofronas, who finished five spots ahead of the competition in the overall classification. Long’s teammate Michael Schein scored second in the Am category, with John Potter having a notable run to third for Magnus Racing just a few seconds off the Porsche ahead in 16th overall.
It was a relatively clean race aside from the flooding and Hedlund’s error at the hairpin, though Johnny O’Connell had a disastrous outing. The Cadillac Racing star qualified uncharacteristically low down the order in P12, and got caught up in the opening melee, damaging his front bumper. Then on the penultimate lap it went from bad to worse for the multiple PWC champion, who had an off at Turn 1 which dropped him him down the order to P20, the place which he limped home in.
Next up for the PWC runners is a trip to Virginia International Raceway on April 28-30.
Photo courtesy of PWC