BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Michael Cooper scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge GT win in Round 7 at the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Martin Fuentes and Alec Udell scored their second victories in as many days in GTA and GT Cup.
The race was held under clear, sunny 65-degree weather conditions. When the green flag flew, second-on-the-grid Cooper, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, drag raced door-to-door down the front straight and into turn 1 with pole sitter Alvaro Parente, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3. Cooper was able to get his car to the apex of the turn first and grabbed the lead. Parente slotted in behind with Johnny O’Connell, in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R, moving into third. EFFORT Racing teammates Michael Lewis and Patrick Long in the No. 41 Curb-Agajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R and the No. 31 World PMO Porsche 911 GT3 R notched 4th and 5th respectively. Cooper’s move to the lead was awarded the Cadillac ATS-V.R Move of the Race.
In GTA, pole sitter Frankie Montecalvo, in the No. 66 Dime R&D Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3, held the lead over Fuentes, in the No. 07 Hublot/Under Armour Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, and Joseph Toussaint in the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R.
In GT Cup, pole sitter Udell, in the No. 17 Amsource Capital/Panther Pipeline Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, held the lead over Corey Fergus, in the No. 00 Motorsports Promotions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Sloan Urry, in the No. 20 Security National/Avasis Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in second and third respectively.
By lap 3, Cooper had built a 1.555 second lead over Parente and by lap 5 he extended it to 2.063 seconds. In GTA, Montecalvo held a comfortable lead over Fuentes, while in GT Cup, Udell pushed out to an eight-second lead leaving Fergus and Urry to battle behind him.
Through lap 8, the leaders in their respective classes held positions. In GTA, Michael Schein, in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, moved up into third in class. Schein though would have to come into pits for mechanical a mechanical issue two laps later, allowing Drew Regitz, in the No. 19 iRACERCOACHING.com Audi R8 LMS GT3, up into 3rd. Schein would later rejoin the race.
Through lap 18, Cooper, Parente, O’Connell, held their respective positions in GT while Long passed Lewis for fourth. Montecalvo, Fuentes, and Regitz held the top 3 positions in GTA, while Udell, Fergus, and Urry held top 3 in GT Cup.
Farther back in the field a great battle developed for positions 8 through 11 with JD Davison, in the No. 33 Nissan/GT Academy GT3 GT-R, Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 2 DeVilbiss-Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra, Andrew Palmer, in the No. 87 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3, and Andrew Davis, in the No. 76 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3R, all dicing for position.
On lap 33 with under four minutes remaining in the race and moving through lapped traffic, Parente closed the gap on Cooper and through segments of the track closed right up on the bumper of the Cadillac ATS-V.R. O’Connell closed his gap to Parente and the three leaders ran nose to tail.
A lap later, Fergus’ Porsche came together with the No. 23 M1 GT Racing Audi R8 GT3 driven by GTA driver Walt Bowlin through turn 3. The 00 machine ended up safely off course beached in the gravel. Bowlin was issued a drive through penalty for the contact. Fergus’ day was unfortunately over.
On the last lap, Montecalvo’s Mercedes encountered a mechanical issue and he slowed on track allowing Fuentes to pass for the lead. Regitz and Schein inherited second and third.
At the checkered, Cooper came across the line 0.888 seconds ahead of Parente, and 1.275 seconds ahead of O’Connell. Long and Lewis finished fourth and fifth. In GTA, Fuentes scored his seventh consecutive win of the season, with Regitz and Schein finishing second and third in class respectively. Udell secured his third GT Cup win of the season, Urry finished second, while Preston Calvert, in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, finished third.
Of note, the Optima Batteries Best Start Award went to the Jon Fogarty, in the No. 99 Gainsco Auto Insurance McLaren 650S GT3, for gaining five positions on the first lap. Fogarty also won the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining six positions during the race. The Motortrendondemand.com Clean Pass of the Race Award went to Long for passing Lewis.
“We got down into turn one side-by-side initially,” said Cooper. “I was able to carry speed around the outside and I was able to get on the throttle quickly into turn two. I knew from Saturday that was the move I had to do if I wanted the lead. I was definitely trying to conserve tires until 20 minutes to go. I was slowly starting to use them more and more to the finish. Luckily, in 2012, I had a Touring Car that wasn’t easy on tires. So I really had to work on my tire management game. It helped today. I was getting a little tired of the second and third place trophies in my locker in the Cadillac truck. I didn’t get a great start yesterday and I apologized to my crew guys and said it wouldn’t happen again. Once I got past Alvaro (Parente), it was all about managing my tires and my pace. Today I actually think the McLaren was quicker than we were. I learned Saturday how hard it is to pass here after following Alvaro the whole race. So I felt if I could hold the lead that it would be tough for him to pass too. I could pull a gap on him in the fast corners but he was quicker in the slower turns. I remember when I was in the TC car with the faster cars are coming up behind you. So I kind of had a feeling of what the slower drivers are thinking. Traffic is always tough at a place like Barber that’s hard to pass. So I left some room to negotiate the lapped cars when moving through traffic. It worked well for me today. I’m going for my second degree in college (Long Island University) but only taking one class this semester. So my college classes are a little lighter this year working with my new Cadillac team. I did have a full load of classes a few years ago when my racing schedule was lighter. It can be tough balancing both.”
“To win races you have to be fast sometimes and lucky other times,” said Fuentes. “Today, luck definitely helped us. We weren’t fast and we were just trying to keep ourselves in second. Third place was catching up fast as was fourth place. I was actually struggling today. Then (Frankie) Montecalvo had a mechanical problem while in the lead. So when the Mercedes had trouble, we inherited that first place with three laps to go. But we will definitely take the win and move on to Canada for the next race. We made some changes on the car from Saturday’s race and it definitely didn’t help today. But we had the Irish with us today and took the win. We will test before CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on May 19-22) and improve the car. It will be important for the rest of the season.”
“This is a short track and there is always a lot going on,” said Udell. “I like that aspect of it. You never really get any time to think too much about anything as you are driving. It’s all about reacting to what is around you. Since last year, I had a little bit of coaching from Patrick Long and Andrew Davis here at the Porsche Driving Academy and it definitely helped coming to this weekend. There were a few places I was losing time last year and I was able to improve this year. It was exciting to come back and this track is such a great facility. The scenery around here is like nothing else in motorsports. I have to go back to school tonight (Clemson University) since we have finals this week. I currently have a full load of classes but my professors have been great to work with my racing schedule. I have been very fortunate to be able to do both. However, it does make it busy right now as I do have school and racing at the same time.”
“On that first corner there, I probably should have tried to brake a little bit later, but the tires weren’t 100% ready,” said Parente. “It seemed like Cooper had a little bit more in the first quarter of the race. Then we had a little bit more in the middle and end of the race. Johnny suddenly finished right next to us, and that was pretty interesting. If I had kept my lead, it would probably have meant that we would have won. It was a tough race, but I’ll take second place.”
“I knew early on that I didn’t have the car that Michael and Alvaro had today,” said O’Connell. “Congratulations to Michael on his first win. We just didn’t have the overall speed. I was able to really look after my tires so when we got to 10-minutes to go I could get back to them. I was able to reel them back in, but I needed a couple more laps. Great weekend for Cadillac getting four podium finishes. That is a good all-around team result.”
Results are provisional until posted final. In GT, O’Connell continues to lead in the Driver’s Championship with 638 points, over Cooper with 622 and Parente with 613. Fuentes continues to lead the GTA Driver’s Championship, while Urry leads Udell 644 to 624 in GT Cup. GT/GTA and GT Cup drivers now head north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, May 19-22. Watch the CBS Sports Network broadcast from Barber Motorsports Park on May 1, 4 PM Eastern.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Results from Sunday, April 24, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GT/GTA Round 7, GT Cup Round 6, at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Drivers listed by Position, Place in Class, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps.
1. 1, GT, Michael Cooper, Syosset NY, Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3, 36
2. 2, GT, Alvaro Parente, Porto Portugal, McLaren 650S GT3, 36
3. 3, GT, Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch GA, Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3, 36
4. 4, GT, Patrick Long, Manhattan Beach CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 36
5. 5, GT, Michael Lewis, Laguna Beach CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 36
6. 6, GT, Bryan Heitkotter, Fresno CA, Nissan GTR GT3, 36
7. 7, GT, Adderly Fong, Hong Kong, Bentley Continental GT3, 36
8. 8, GT, JD Davison, Denver CO, Nissan GTR GT3, 36
9. 9, GT, Kyle Marcelli, Barrie Canada, Audi R8 LMS GT3, 36
10. 10, GT, Andrew Palmer, Los Angeles CA, Bentley Continental GT3, 36
11. 11, GT, Andrew Davis, Athens GA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 36
12. 12, GT, Ryan Eversley, Atlanta GA, Acura TLX-GT, 36
13. 13, GT, Jon Fogarty, Bend OR, McLaren 650S GT3, 36
14. 14, GT, Austin Cindric, Charlotte NC, McLaren 650S GT3, 36
15. 15, GT, Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee WI, Acura TLX-GT, 36
16. 1, GTA, Martin Fuentes, Mexico City Mexico, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, 36
17. 2, GTA, Drew Regitz, Denver CO, Audi R8 LMS GT3, 36
18. 3, GTA, Michael Schein, Glen Cove NY, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 36
19. 4, GTA, Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands NJ, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, 34
20. 5, GTA, Joseph Toussaint, Houston TX, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 34
21. 1, GT Cup, Alec Udell, The Woodlands TX, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 34
22. 2, GT Cup, Sloan Urry, Park City UT, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 34
23. 3, GT Cup, Preston Calvert, Potomac MD, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 33
24. 6, GTA, Walt Bowlin, Tarpon Springs FL, Audi R8, 33
25. 4, GT Cup, Corey Fergus, Columbus OH, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 31
26. 22, GT, Colin Thompson, Doylestown PA, McLaren 650S GT3, 0, DNS