Crazy Fire Hydrant Flooding Halts the 50-minute in Long Beach Streets

LONG BEACH, Calif.  – 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. That (incident) was a little crazy with the water on the track. I went into that turn and all of a sudden there was a river in front of me so I just went foot off throttle and prayed that I wouldn’t crash or anything and just skidded through the puddle. It was last minute for me; you’re flat out on that straight and suddenly you see a black shadow there, the water from the fire hydrant.”

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.

“It was probably twenty feet of running water and with slick tires at 140 m.p.h. that’s not what you want to see,” said Long. “It’s one of those situations where you sort of just stay calm, sort of relax, and let it end. I’m happy we didn’t have an incident and everyone responded really well, so hats off to the track and World Challenge series for their handling of an unnatural disaster. But, that’s Long Beach and that’s street racing. This series is about sprint racing and everybody’s racing hard. At the front, there’s a lot of respect; it’s hard racing but we can all grow together and keep a good show for the fans so I’m excited to represent Porsche in PWC in the GT3 R.”

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.

“It was a good and fun weekend,” said Sellers. “Normally track time is limited on a street course but that certainly wasn’t an issue for me this weekend. I felt like that’s all I was doing was on-track and didn’t have a lot of time for anything else. I think that everybody at K-Pax Racing is happy to have two drivers on the podium. The level of competition on this side doesn’t cease to amaze me and it’s pretty impressive. You can never let down for one lap. They say that endurance racing is qualifying laps every single race, and then you come over here and it truly is qualifying laps in every single race.”

Rounding out the top five the GT division were Daniel Mancinelli of Italy in the No. 31 The Collection/TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and Alex Riberas of Spain in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3.

The reminder of the GT top ten included Ryan Dalziel of Scotland in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVibliss Mercedes AMG GT3, young Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., in the No. 17 GMG/Euroworld Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Pierre Kaffer of Germany in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS, Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and local driver James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

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.”

Of note, the following awards were also issued:
● The Optima Batteries Best Start was awarded to Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. for his four-position gain at the start of the race.
● The VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger award was given to James Sofronas (No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R) for his three-position gain over the course of the race.
● The Cadillac Best Move of the race was issued to race-winner Parente for his commanding lead at the start that carried through the race and multiple re-starts.

GT classes next take to the track for SprintX action on April 28th at VIRginia International Raceway. GT Sprint competition resumes on June 23rd at Road America. CBS Sports Network same-day broadcast of the Pirelli world Challenge Grand Prix of Long Beach Presented by Optima Batteries begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT (11:30 a.m. PDT). Catch the encore presentation at 6:30 p.m. EDT (3:30 p.m. PDT).


Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Long Beach Presented by Optima Batteries Round 3 GT/GTA Race Results.

Pos., PIC, Class, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps, Status
1, 1, GT, Alvaro PARENTE, Porto, Portugal, McLaren 650S,31, Running
2, 2, GT, Patrick LONG, Manhattan Beach, CA, Porsche GT3R,31, Running
3, 3, GT, Bryan SELLERS, Braselton, GA, McLaren 650S,31, Running
4, 4, GT, Daniel MANCINELLI, Italy, Ferrari 488 GT3,31, Running
5, 5, GT, Alex RIBERAS, Barcelona, Spain, Ferrari 488 GT3,31, Running
6, 6, GT, Ryan DALZIEL, Windermere, FL, Mercedes AMG,31, Running
7, 7, GT, Alec UDELL, The Woodlands, TX, Porsche GT3R,31, Running
8, 8, GT, Pierre KAFFER, Germany, Audi R8 LMS,31, Running
9, 9, GT, Jon FOGARTY, Bend, OR, Porsche GT3R,31, Running
10, 1, GTA, James SOFRONAS, Villa Park, CA, Porsche GT3R,31, Running
11, 10, GT, Ryan EVERSLEY, Atlanta, GA, Acura NSX GT3,31, Running
12, 11, GT, Jonathan SUMMERTON, Redwood City, CA, Lamborghini Huracan GT3,31, Running
13, 12, GT, Peter KOX, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Acura NSX GT3,31, Running
14, 13, GT, Michael COOPER, Syosset, NY, Cadillac ATS-V.R,31,Running
15, 2, GTA, Michael SCHEIN, Glen Cove, NY, Porsche GT3R,31, Running
16, 3, GTA, John POTTER, Salt Lake City, UT, Audi R8 LMS,31, Running
17, 4, GTA, Yufeng LUO, Arcadia, CA, Bentley Continental GT3,31, Running
18, 5, GTA, Pablo Perez COMPANC, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mercedes AMG GT3,31, Running
19, 6, GTA, Jorge DE LA TORRE, McAllen, TX, Aston Martin Vantage GT3,31, Running
20, 14, GT, Johnny O’CONNELL, Flowery Branch, GA, Cadillac ATS-V.R,31, Running
21, 7, GTA, Tim PAPPAS, Boston, MA, Mercedes Benz AMG GT3,28, Not Running
22, 8, GTA, Mike HEDLUND, Redwood City, CA, McLaren 650S,16, Not Running