Parente’s McLaren dominates Pirelli World Challenge GT Round 6 Race Saturday at Mid-Ohio; Sofronas Holds Schein for GTA Win. 2016 GT Series Champion Beats Cadillac’s Cooper, O’Connell in 50-minute sprint
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Pole winner Alvaro Parente left little doubt about his performance Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a dominating win in the Pirelli World Challenge GT Sprint Round 6 event, the PWC Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing, in his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.
Parente, a winner last year in his debut at Mid-Ohio, repeated the 2016 showing with a 6.857-second victory over Cadillac’s Michael Cooper and Johnny O’Connell in a 36-lap wire-to-wire win, his third in 2017 in the GT Sprint division.
The personable Portugese McLaren factory driver nipped Cooper and O’Connell in Friday’s qualifying but Saturday’s session was a completely different performance with Parente consistently extending his advantage through the 50-minute race. Even after a full course yellow flag on lap 26, Parente jumped to a solid margin immediately after the re-start and never looked back.
“Definitely our car works very well on this track,” said Parente. “Saturday’s super close qualifying session, I put a lot in quite early in the session. Then I went back out and managed to improve my lap time in a good battle for pole position. Today, we knew the tires wouldn’t come in the first couple of laps so the race would be quite tricky. It’s just the nature of this track for the tires to take a while to start working properly. So, I knew I had to work them in very hard on those first two or three laps and then I had to manage the race after that and try to get a good start, clean through the first three corners.”
“I like the track a lot. It has its own characteristics. It’s not a long track, the middle sector is very interesting. And then when your car works well, like other places, you’re always going to enjoy it a little more. This track has its own characteristics, you have to know it well to take the most advantage of it and, my car works very well here so I’m really happy with the result.”
Cooper, a 2016 Mid-Ohio GT race winner from Syosset, N.Y., drove a strong race in his No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. sports car taking the runner-up slot over his teammate O’Connell, the four-time PWC GT champion from Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
“I don’t know if we ran too many qualifying laps and hurt the rear tires, but the car was a handful,” Cooper said. “I was hanging on out there, the car was loose on the rear tires. Johnny may have been a little faster, but I appreciate him running me clean and not making a move. We are going to stay up late tonight and make some adjustments for tomorrow. The Cadillac Racing guys will figure it out. I am happy with second today.”
“We had a really good Cadillac today,” O’Connell stated. “I might have been able to play with the McLaren a little, but it wasn’t worth taking a risk on getting by Michael and risking both cars. I am pleased with third and Michael taking second. I was running tight on Michael all race so I couldn’t get a decent lap in for the start tomorrow. I will be ready and if the car is as good tomorrow as it was today I can move up.”
Fourth went to Parente’s K-PAX Racing teammate, Bryan Sellers of Braselton, Ga., in the No. 6 McLaren 650S after a stellar start from his sixth starting position. Rounding out the top-five in Round 6 was current GT Sprint point leader Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Parente’s victory at Mid-Ohio provisionally closes the GT Sprint point standings to nine points on Long, who holds a 134-125 margin after the first race of the double-header weekend.
Cooper, O’Connell, Sellers and Long battled for position in a close race after the lap 26 yellow flag period but none could improve their respective positions by the drop of the checkered flag.
Kyle Marcelli of Barrie, Ont., Canada, took the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 machine to sixth Saturday followed by former Mid-Ohio GT winner Ryan Dalziel of Scotland in the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, college student Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R, VIR SprintX victor Daniel Mancinelli of Italy in the No. 31 TR3 Racing/The Collection Ferrari 488 GT3 and popular Ryan Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3.
One of the real challenges of Saturday’s GT event was the battle for the GTA win with Road America double winner James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., edging last year’s Mid-Ohio double winner Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., the GTA pole winner.
Sofronas drove his No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to the lead into the first turn and watched Schein’s No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R pressure him the entire 50 minutes before taking the victory by 0.235 seconds. Third in GTA Saturday was veteran sports car racer Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass., in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“You need to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of preparation, and you can’t make any mistakes,” said Sofronas. “Mike Schein pushed me. I knew I wanted to get him on the start and I got him going into turn four. I put my head down but he never went away; he was probably three to five car lengths the whole race so it made me really focus on hitting my marks and being consistent. It’s a good win to have and we have to do it again tomorrow (Sunday). This has been fun, the weather’s great, and there’s a great turnout from the fans. My guys did a great job on the car – it was way better than it was in qualifying so I’m excited to get back in it on Sunday.”
Scoring top honors in the GT Cup class was Japan’s Yuki Harata in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo sports car.
Sunday’s GT Sprint Round 7 for the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing will begin at noon EDT. The CBS Sports Network coverage will be same-day telecast starting at 2 p.m. EDT.
Results for Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge 50-minute GT Round 6 Sprint race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. All results are provisional until technical inspection and steward reviews are completed and posted as Final.
1,1, Pro,Alvaro PARENTE,Porto, Portugal,McLaren 650S GT3,36,Running,51:08.638,
2,2, Pro,Michael COOPER,Syosset, NY,Cadillac ATS-V.R,36,Running,51:15.495,6.857
3,3, Pro,Johnny O’CONNELL,Flowery Branch, GA,Cadillac ATS-V.R,36,Running,51:15.957,7.319
4,4, Pro,Bryan SELLERS,Braselton, GA,McLaren 650S GT3,36,Running,51:16.421,7.783
5,5, Pro,Patrick LONG,Manhattan Beach, CA,Porsche 911 GT3 R,36,Running,51:17.235,8.597
6,6, Pro,Kyle MARCELLI,Barrie, ON,Ferrari 488 GT3,36,Running,51:17.464,8.826
7,7, Pro,Ryan DALZIEL,Windermere, FL,Mercedes AMG GT3,36,Running,51:18.016,9.378
8,8, Pro,Alec UDELL,The Woodlands, TX,Porsche 911 GT3 R,36,Running,51:18.651,10.013
9,9, Pro,Daniel MANCINELLI,Italy,Ferrari 488 GT3,36,Running,51:21.657,13.019
10,10, Pro,Ryan EVERSLEY,Atlanta, GA,Acura NSX GT3,36,Running,51:22.049,13.411
11,11, Pro,Jon FOGARTY,Bend, Oregon,Porsche 911 GT3 R,36,Running,51:23.688,15.050
12,12, Pro,Spencer PUMPELLY,Atlanta, GA,Audi RS 8 LMS,36,Running,51:24.105,15.467
13,1, Am,James SOFRONAS,Villa Park, CA,Porsche 911 GT3 R,36,Running,51:32.691,24.053
14,2, Am,Michael SCHEIN,Glen Cove, NY,Porsche 911 GT3 R,36,Running,51:32.926,24.288
15,3, Am,Tim PAPPAS,Boston, MA,Mercedes AMG GT3,36,Running,51:37.900,29.262
16,4, Am,John POTTER,Salt Lake City, UT,Audi RS 8 LMS,36,Running,51:38.510,29.872
17,5, Am,Jorge DE LA TORRE,McAllen. TX,Aston Martin Vantage GT3,36,Running,51:42.533,33.895
18,13, Pro,Peter KOX,Eindhoven, Netherlands,Acura NSX GT3,36,Running,51:47.357,38.719
19,6, Am,Preston CALVERT,Potomac, MD,Porsche 911 GT3 R,35,Running,51:55.631,1 LAP
20,1, GT Cup,Yuki HARATA,Japan,Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo,34,Running,52:16.026,2 LAPS
21,7, Am,Mike MCCANN,North Canton, OH,Audi RS 8 LMS,29,Not Running,43:36.644,7 LAPS
22,8, Am,Pablo Perez COMPANC,Buenos Aires, Argentina,Mercedes AMG GT3,24,Not Running,38:39.182,12 LAPS
23,2, GT Cup,Marko RADISIC,Belgrade, Serbia,Ferrari Challenge Evo,15,Not Running,22:47.350,21 LAPS