NASCAR Race Weekend Central
(Photo: Phil Allaway)

Alvaro Parente Wins PWC GT Round 1 at St. Petersburg

On Saturday morning, defending Pirelli World Challenge GT champion Alvaro Parente was able to get past pole sitter Daniel Mancinelli on lap 2.  The move, using the contrarian outside line at turn 4, gave the Portuguese racer the advantage.  From there, Parente pulled away to claim the victory by 10.135 seconds.

Unlike Friday’s first GTS race, Saturday’s GT race was not clean.  Shortly after Parente took the lead, GT Cup pole sitter Marko Radisic‘s Ferrari caught fire on the exit of turn 14.  According to Pirelli World Challenge’s live stream coverage, Radisic had been having transmission issues prior to the fire.  While trying to reset the system, it simply broke, leaked out fluid and ignited.  Radisic pulled to the inside of the pit straight and stopped, causing a full course caution.  Radisic exited the Ferrari under his own power and walked away.

There was a fair amount of contact during the race.  Cadillac’s Johnny O’Connell lost at least one dive plane off of his Cadillac ATS-V.R.  R. Ferri Motorsports’ Alex Riberas had contact early that stilted his progress as well.

However, the last few minutes featured quite a bit of action.  James Davison, driving the No. 007 Aston Martin for The Racers Group, made a late but clean move to take third away from Magnus Racing’s Pierre Kaffer.  Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long tried to follow, but ended up making contact with Kaffer.  The contact cut Kaffer’s right rear tire, forcing him to make a late pit stop.  Kaffer would finish a lap down in 19th after running at the front for the whole race.

On the last lap, Davison was able to get past Mancinelli for second entering turn 1.  Long followed past.  Later on in the lap, O’Connell had contact with Mancinelli at turn 9, forcing the pole sitter to go straight and come to a halt.  Mancinelli would resume, but would finish in 14th.

Behind Davison and Long was O’Connell in fourth despite the contact.  Bryan Sellers benefited from the late contact to come home fifth in the No. 6 McLaren for K-PAX Racing.  Riberas ended up sixth, but turned in the fastest lap of the race (74.125 seconds, 87.420 mph).  As a result, Riberas will start on pole for Round No. 2 on Sunday.

In GTA, Alec Udell inherited the pole after Mancinelli was promoted and was unchallenged all race long by GTA competitors.  Instead, Udell was right up in the lower end of the GT class, dueling with RealTime Racing’s Peter Kox, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s Jon Fogarty and Absolute Racing’s Adderly Fong.  Udell eventually finished ninth overall, good enough for the class win.

Udell’s margin of victory was 5.926 seconds over Michael Schein in second (12th overall).  James Sofronas was third, followed by Mike Hedlund and Tim Pappas.  In GT Cup, Radisic’s fire gave the lead and victory to Preston Calvert.

Round No. 2 for the GT, GTA and GT Cup classes is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on Sunday after the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  The race will be livestreamed at World-Challenge.com, the Motor Trend OnDemand service and at Motor Trend’s YouTube channel.

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.