Michael Cooper Scores PWC GT Sweep with Sunday Win at Sonoma Raceway; Long Clinches GT Sprint Title
Top 5 drivers in 5 different car makes in exciting battle for the win
SONOMA, Calif. – Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., completed an impressive sweep of the GT Sprint 50-minute races this weekend at Sonoma Raceway with another wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Sonoma. In addition, Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., the newly-crowned GT Overall champion, clinched the GT Sprint point title with a second-place finish.
Cooper, 28, led every lap of Saturday’s 30-lap GT feature and Sunday’s 29-lap GT main event in his No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. for a dominating performance that vaulted the young racer into second in the GT Overall point standings behind Long. Cooper, the GT SprintX champion with Jordan Taylor this year, fought off challenges from Patrick and Germany’s Pierre Kaffer to take the checkered flag by 0.882 seconds. Sunday’s win was Cooper’s third GT triumph this year.
“In Pirelli World Challenge, these 50-minute sprint races are always just qualifying pace all the way through and that’s exactly how today’s race was,” said Cooper “You put your head down, try not to look behind you too much and just go for it. I was able to come away with the sweep for the weekend, I’m very proud to give these guys something to celebrate tonight in addition to the SprintX championship. Most kids start out in karts or cars when they’re very young and I didn’t do that, I started when I was 20, and I’m 28 now, so it hasn’t been that long. But, winning three championships in a short amount of time, and the way that I’ve done it – getting rides on merit and not any other way. Also, Patrick (Long) mentioned the CVs of the factory drivers in this category and you look at my resume against those guys and it’s pretty easy to read so that makes me very proud that I can compete with guys like this and hold them off for the win.”
Long, a four-time race winner, concluded a sensational GT season in the No. 58 Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R with a double championship campaign – GT Overall and GT Sprint — and pressured Cooper throughout the 50-minute race Sunday. Long won the 2011 PWC GT title and the GT Overall and GT Sprint crowns in 2017.
“Yesterday (Saturday) was a different race for me trying to close out the overall championship with one round remaining so I can run today with gloves off,” said Long. “Michael (Cooper) had a great start and made me work for it to keep up with him. We worked hard on the car last night and were able to make a lot of improvements. It’s very difficult to run behind a car in dirty air. He was definitely running strong in a lot of places and in a few places, with our car being a little bit lighter and a shorter wheelbase, we were able to make up some of that ground. Pierre (Kaffer) ran really hard at the end. Hopefully it was as gripping and exciting a race to watch, a different type of race to watch. I’m very proud to close out the Sprint Championship and the team championship today.”
Kaffer, in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS8 LMS, recorded his best GT finish of the year with a strong effort in fighting with Cooper and Long late in Sunday’s race. Fourth went to Bryan Seller of Braselton, Ga., in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S followed by Ryan Dalziel of Scotland in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“At the beginning of the race, I tried to save my tires and it paid off in the end,” Kaffer said. “I was able to close the gap and apply pressure to Patrick (Long.) Overall, I think it was a fair and complete race. We found the right spot in the setup of our car that we were looking to setup the race. With three professionals in the front, I think that’s what the series needed to have a clean and exciting race. Racing in America is awesome and I enjoyed being part of PWC.”
The top five GT finishers were in five different auto makes – Cadillac, Porsche, Audi, McLaren and Mercedes.
Positions six through ten Sunday included Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R; Peter Kox of The Netherlands in the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3; four-time GT series champion Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.; Clemson University student Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., in the No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports/GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R and James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Defending GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal was just four points behind Long in the GT Sprint standings but was hit from behind in the opening lap and was forced to retire from the race. Parente still finished second to Long in the GT Sprint points and third behind Long and Cooper in the GT Overall.
Sofronas, the SprintX Pro/Am champion this year, won his 11th race of the season and clinched the GTA division title Sunday with a victory over Pablo Perez Companc of Argentina in the No. 69 Champ 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Tim Pappas of Boston, Mass., in the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. GTA Saturday winner Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., was forced to retire from Sunday’s event.
“It’s definitely been a great year,” said Sofronas. “I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team this year and we’ve been running five cars, 24 in our crew, and somehow I managed to put it together with a great staff. When I get in the car, that’s my break from everything – I can just race – but it wouldn’t have happened without a great crew. After I finished this race, I realized we ran every single lap of every single race this year. We didn’t miss one single lap; no mechanical, no DNF, no contact that caused us to fall off. That’s a testament to the prep level and these guys have a lot going on.”
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS champions will be saluted Sunday night (Sept. 17) at The Doubletree in Rohnert Park, Calif.
Results from the Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway GT/GTA Round 9 GT Cup Round 8 race. All results are provisional until posted Final.
1,1, Pro,Michael COOPER,Syosset, NY,Cadillac ATS-V.R,29,Running,50:01.861,
2,2, Pro,Patrick LONG,Manhattan Beach, CA,Porsche 911 GT3 R,29,Running,50:02.743,0.882
3,3, Pro,Pierre KAFFER,Germany,Audi RS 8 LMS,29,Running,50:02.951,1.090
4,4, Pro,Bryan SELLERS,Braselton, GA,McLaren 650S GT3,29,Running,50:14.871,13.010
5,5, Pro,Ryan DALZIEL,Windermere, FL,Mercedes AMG GT3,29,Running,50:15.224,13.363
6,6, Pro,Jon FOGARTY,Bend, OR,Porsche 911 GT3 R,29,Running,50:17.711,15.850
7,7, Pro,Peter KOX,Eindhoven, Netherlands,Acura NSX GT3,29,Running,50:18.230,16.369
8,8, Pro,Johnny O’CONNELL,Flowery Branch, GA,Cadillac ATS-V.R,29,Running,50:22.380,20.519
9,9, Pro,Alec UDELL,The Woodlands, TX,Porsche 911 GT3 R,29,Running,50:30.285,28.424
10,1, Am,James SOFRONAS,Villa Park, CA,Porsche 911 GT3 R,29,Running,50:34.921,33.060
11,2, Am,Pablo Perez COMPANC,Buenos Aires, Argentina,Mercedes AMG GT3,29,Running,50:46.227,44.366
12,3, Am,Tim PAPPAS,Boston, MA,Mercedes AMG GT3,29,Running,50:52.673,50.812
13,10, Pro,Memo GIDLEY,Sausalito, CA,Porsche 911 GT3 R,29,Running,51:13.513,1:11.651
14,4, Am,John POTTER,Salt Lake City, UT,Audi RS 8 LMS,29,Running,51:51.336,1:49.475
15,11, Pro,Daniel MANCINELLI,Italy,Ferrari 488 GT3,28,Running,51:06.234,1 LAP
16,5, Am,Preston CALVERT,Potomac, MD,Porsche 911 GT3 R,5,Not Running,12:27.001,24 LAPS
17,6, Am,Michael SCHEIN,Glen Cove, NY,Porsche 911 GT3 R,3,Not Running,9:11.889,26 LAPS
18,12, Pro,Alvaro PARENTE,Porto, Portugal,McLaren 650S GT3,1,Not Running,2:25.969,28 LAPS
19,13, Pro,Ryan EVERSLEY,Atlanta, GA,Acura NSX GT3,0,NC,0.000,