Parente Wins Second Straight Pirelli World Challenge Race!
Defending Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner Alvaro Parente continued his impressive street racing performance Sunday in Round 3 of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix presented by Optima Batteries with another Long Beach GT victory despite a race stoppage on lap ten of the 31-lap contest.
Parente, a six-time winner in 2016 and GT series drivers champion, started on the pole Sunday at the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit near the Long Beach harbor and never looked back to secure his second 2017 PWC GT win in the No. 9 K-RAX Racing McLaren 650S sports car. Alvaro captured Round 1 last month at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Parente, a 32-year-old driver from Porto, Portugal, held off the turn one challenge of local star Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and extended his winning margin at the checkered flag to 2.86 seconds in a wild event that saw flooding between turns eight and nine due to a fire hydrant incident on a Long Beach side street.
The 50-minute sprint event was halted for 15 minutes on lap ten as the PWC Safety Crew cleaned up the flooded track surface due to running water from the side street mishap.
Parente, who set a track record in qualifying Saturday, also clocked a race lap record with a time of one minute, 19.070 seconds (89.62 miles per hour) easily besting the mark set last year by Michael Cooper at 1:19.638 (88.99 m.p.h.). Parente now leads Long by one point, 70 to Long’s 69, in the 2017 PWC GT point standings.
“I’m definitely very happy to cross the finish line first this time,” said Parente, who won last year’s Long Beach contest after post-race technical inspection. “We really wanted to get this win. The closest moment with Patrick (Long) was at the start, in the first braking area. There was respect with everyone, Bryan (Sellers) was there also in the back and tried to go inside but I was able to keep my position, even though that was all very close. I had a great car in my hands, my team and McLaren GT did a great job, and I’m happy to be back on the top step today.”
Long, winner of Round 2 at St. Petersburg, drove his No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to within three-tenths of a second at the mid-point of the race and made a couple of inside maneuvers to take the lead but had to settle for second Sunday.
Parente’s teammate, Bryan Sellers of Braselton, Ga., finished third in the No. 6 K-RAX Racing McLaren 650S in his first Pirelli World Challenge event after driving in two events at Long Beach weekend.
James Sofronas, a Long Beach winner in PWC in 2009 and 2013, also captured the GTA (non-professional) class Sunday with a solid drive in his GMG-supported Porsche over six-time 2016 race winner Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and PWC newcomer John Potter of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS. Sofronas also recorded the quickest race lap in the GTA category Sunday at 1:20.145 (88.42 m.p.h.), re-setting the race lap record for the class.
“We knew we had a good car but it didn’t show in qualifying,” said Sofronas. “Long Beach holds a special place to me now that I’m in GTA more because I don’t have time to race because GMG is growing. I basically do it because I love it so they put the old guy in GTA and that’s fine with me. I just want to finish as strong as I can and a top ten is pretty good, especially when you consider the grid here and the guys that won. They’re the top of the game. We just wanted to keep it clean and the GMG guys did a great job because they prepared a flawless car.”