On Sunday afternoon, Patrick Long was able to take advantage of a bad start by pole sitter Alex Riberas to take over the lead in the first corner from third on the grid. From there, Long was able to hold off Cadillac’s Johnny O’Connell to take his first win of 2017.
The start itself was a little difficult to describe since so much happened at once. However, since Pirelli World Challenge had a partnership with Motor Trend that allowed Race No. 2 to be live-streamed on YouTube, the whole race is already available for viewing.
Riberas got a bad start and that allowed outside pole sitter Alvaro Parente to get a big enough lead to swoop down to the inside. However, Parente was going so fast trying to hold off Long that he outright blew turn 1. Long wanted to get himself ahead of O’Connell and avoid a potential crash behind him. Immediately behind Long, Riberas and Absolute Racing’s Adderly Fong had contact.
Once in turn 1, O’Connell appeared to get a run on the outside and Long went wide to block that. The result of the move was that Long ended up with the lead. Riberas appeared to have the advantage on O’Connell, but O’Connell swept past prior to turn 3.
Parente dropped back to eighth as a result of going wide. From there, he immediately began charging back towards the front. By the end of the first lap, he was already up to fifth.
Davison came from the rear of the field after his spin to move back up to seventh before the Aston Martin stalled at the entrance to the turns 11-12 chicane with eight minutes to go. This drew a full course caution and bunched the field up for a GWC.
The final restart was rather chaotic. While Long was able to get a gap and drive to victory, TR3 Racing’s Daniel Mancinelli bumped K-PAX Racing’s Bryan Sellers out of the way for sixth in turn 1. A couple of turns later, Parente went wide exiting turn 3 and brushed the wall after possible contact, allowing Michael Cooper to get by for fourth. At the next turn, Parente executed a bump-and-run on Cooper and got fourth back.
Behind Long and O’Connell was Riberas in third. Parente was fourth while Cooper rounded out the top 5. Mancinelli originally crossed the line in sixth, but was given a two-second penalty after the hit on Sellers was deemed avoidable. The penalty dropped him to ninth in class (10th overall).
In GTA, Alec Udell led the class flag-to-flag in order to sweep the weekend. However, the race could have ended up with much more than a sixth-place finish overall. At the end of the first lap, Udell was fourth overall and holding his own after starting 11th.
19 minutes in, Cooper made a move to the inside at turn 10 on Udell for fifth. Cooper made the pass, but went wide, which allowed Udell to come back. That put the two drivers side-by-side into a chicane. Udell went over the curb on the left, then off-course on exit and dropped back to ninth.
The chaotic final couple of laps allowed Udell to move back up to seventh. Mancinelli’s penalty moved him up to sixth. Wright Motorsports’ Michael Schein finished second in class (11th overall). Mike Hedlund was third in the No. 98 McLaren from K-PAX Racing. Pablo Perez Companc in the Champ 1 Mercedes was fourth and James Sofronas fifth.
Highlighted coverage of the two GT races from St. Petersburg is scheduled to premiere on Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
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