Fuentes Takes GTA, Udell GT Cup, Sandberg GTS, Grahovec TC Titles
MONTEREY, Calif. – Before a packed house Sunday night in Monterey, the Pirelli World Challenge honored its 2016 series champions in eight divisions following the Pirelli World Challenge Championships presented by Nissan at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Leading the big haul of prize money and hardware were the GT champions – Alvaro Parente (Driver’s), McLaren (Manufacturer’s) and K-PAX Racing (Team) – after a wild GT Round 20 50-minute sprint race Sunday afternoon at the legendary 2.238-mile, 11-turn Northern California permanent road circuit.
Parente, the 32-year-old factory driver from Porto, Portugal, drove his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S to a season-leading six GT race victories in 2016 including a spectacular and unpredictable season finale win. Parente also led the GT division with five pole positions in his initial U.S. racing season in the 11-event PWC campaign.
McLaren captured its first PWC GT Manufacturers’ point title after the British auto maker entered Sunday’s final race tied with Porsche at 130 points. Parente’s Sunday win clinched the championship for the popular racing marque. K-PAX Racing fielded three drivers – Parente, Austin Cindric and Colin Thompson – throughout the GT season and defeated Cadillac Racing in the team standings.
“It was an amazing season for myself, McLaren and K-PAX Racing,” said Parente. “And Sunday’s race was just a wild event with the last lap. I still really can’t believe all of what happened. But I’m so thankful to our team and McLaren for a great year. I really enjoyed racing in the sprint format of the Pirelli World Challenge. It’s a world class series.”
In addition, seven other class championships awarded Sunday evening including drivers’ titles for Martin Fuentes of Mexico City in the GTA category; Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., in GT Cup; Brett Sandberg of Allendale, N.J., in the GTS; Toby Grahovec of Little Elm, Tex., in Touring Car; Elivan Goulart of Shelton, Conn., in TCA; Tom O’Gorman of Mason, Ohio, in TCB; Michael Mills of Houston, Tex., in Sportsman SprintX GT and Max Riddle of Vancouver, B.C., Canada in Sportsman SprintX GTS.
In the Manufacturer’s titles, McLaren captured the GT division with Ford Performance winning the GTS category and Mazda taking the Touring Car and Touring Car A classes.
In special awards, Ian Willis of AIM Autosport was awarded the prestigious Zimmerman Cup for his efforts as a crew chief, while veteran Tony Gaples of Blackdog Speed Shop was honored with the Jim Cook Award for his significant contributions to the Pirelli World Challenge.
Sixteen-year-old Nate Stacy of Roush Performance Road Racing won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger of the Year, and 2011 PWC GT champion Patrick Long captured the MotorTrendonDemand.com Clean Pass of the Year. In addition, Jerry Russett, a long-time PWC official, received the Special Recognition Award.
2016 PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE CHAMPIONS
GT Drivers’ Champion – ALVARO PARENTE, Porto, Portugal
GTA Driver’s Champion – MARTIN FUENTES, Mexico City, Mexico
GT Cup Driver’s Champion – ALEC UDELL, The Woodlands, Texas
GTS Driver’s Champion – BRETT SANDBERG, Allendale, N.J.
Touring Car Driver’s Champion – TOBY GRAHOVEC, Little Elm, Texas
Touring Car A Driver’s Champion – ELIVAN GOULART, Shelton, Conn.
Touring Car B Driver’s Champion – TOM O’GORMAN, Mason, Ohio
SprintX GT Sportsman Driver’s Champion – MICHAEL MILLS, Houston, Texas
SprintX GTS Sportsman Driver’s Champion – MAX RIDDLE, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
GT Manufacturer’s Champion – McLAREN
GTS Manufacturer’s Champion – FORD PERFORMANCE
Touring Car Manufacturer’s Champion – MAZDA
Touring Car A Manufacturer’s Champion – MAZDA
GT Team Champion – K-PAX RACING
GT Cup Team Champion – GMG MOTORSPORTS
GTS Team Champion – ROUSH PERFORMANCE ROAD RACING
Touring Car Team Champion – CLASSIC BMW MOTORSPORTS
Touring Car A Team Champion – S.A.C. RACING
Touring Car B Team Champion – HALE MOTORSPORTS
GT/GTA Crew of the Year – SCUDERIA CORSA
GT Cup Crew of the Year – CALVERT DYNAMICS
GTS Crew of the Year – ROUSH PERFORMANCE ROAD RACING
Touring Car Crew of the Year – BERG RACING
Touring Car A Crew of the Year – S.A.C. RACING
Touring Car B Crew of the Year – BLACK ARMOR HELMETS
Zimmerman Cup Crew Award – IAN WILLIS, AIM AUTOSPORT
Jim Cook Award (Contributor to PWC) – TONY GAPLES, BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP
VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger of the Year – NATE STACY
MotorTrendonDemand.com Clean Pass of the Year – PATRICK LONG
Special Recognition Award – JERRY RUSSETT