K-PAX Racing’s Àlvaro Parente used an excellent restart to take the lead away from TR3 Racing’s Daniel Mancinelli at the end of lap 2. From there, the Bentley racer was not threatened on the way to his second GT Sprint victory of 2018. It is the third overall win of the season for K-PAX Racing and the 50th win all-time for the Jim Haughney-owned team.
“The start was quite good,” Parente said after the race. “I was following the No. 31 Ferrari [Mancinelli] in Turn 1 and then Hargrove had a good launch on the outside. He got by me there. I tried to get him back in Turn 2, but it wasn’t possible. Around the back after the next hairpin, [Mancinelli] and Hargrove got together and that allowed me to get up to second. On the restart, Mancinelli was sleeping or something and hesitated a little bit. I timed it just right and managed to get ahead of him there on the straight. The timing went well. I got the timing just right and managed to get by him there. After that, it was just trying to manage the pace.”
Mancinelli started from the pole and led the first lap. Exiting Canada Corner, DXDT Racing’s David Askew went wide and lost control of his Mercedes-AMG GT3. Askew spun across the track and hit the tires to bring out a quickie full-course yellow.
After only one lap behind the pace car, Mancinelli got the aforementioned bad restart. That gave Parente all he needed to get out front and control the race.
Behind Parente, R. Ferri Motorsport’s Toni Vilander was able to get himself up into second. Mancinelli held in there at first, but PFAFF Motorsports’ Scott Hargrove came on later in the race. Hargrove moved his Porsche up to third and put the pressure on Vilander for second.
Parente’s margin of victory was 1.313 seconds over Vilander with Hargrove in third. Mancinelli finished fourth, while Alegra Motorsports’ Michael Christensen was fifth.
In GTA, Squadra Corse Garage Italia’s Martin Fuentes led without issue until the closing laps of the race. That’s when TruSpeed AutoSport’s Parker Chase made his presence known. With two laps to go, Chase got a run on Fuentes on the frontstretch and ran Fuentes side-by-side through turn 1. By turn 3, Chase was able to assume the advantage.
Fuentes was not done yet. He stalked Chase for the next lap. On the final lap, Fuentes made an aggressive move to the inside at Turn 5. The move was successful not only in retaking the lead, but also in pushing Chase wide. From there, Fuentes held on to take his fourth GTA win of the season.
Chase ended up second, 1.768 seconds back. Wright Motorsports’ Anthony Imperato, making his first Pirelli World Challenge start, finished third, followed by Dream Racing Motorsports’ Yuki Harata. Askew charged back through the field after his first-lap crash to finish fifth.
In GTS, Team Panoz Racing’s Ian James started from the pole and led without challenge for much of the race. However, James was not the show on this day. Both Lawson Aschenbach (practice crash) and James Sofronas (time disallowed due to abusing track limits) had to start in the rear and immediately set out to get to the front.
Aschenbach was able to get into the top 10 on the first lap from the rear with Sofronas in tow. On lap 3, trouble struck for Aschenbach. MarcoPolo Motorsports’ Nicolai Elghanayan made a move to the inside at Turn 5 and hit the left rear of Aschenbach’s Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. At first, it didn’t really affect Aschenbach. As the race continued on, Aschenbach began experiencing issues with the left rear corner of the car.
On lap 8, Dr. Preston Calvert spun and hit the tires in Turn 7 after contact from Mike Hedlund. During that caution, Aschenbach pitted from seventh in class to diagnose the issue. He would continue, but ultimately finished three laps down in 36th overall.
Sofronas continued his charge, getting himself up to third prior to the final full course yellow coming out for PF Racing’s Vinnie Allegretta beaching himself in the Turn 1 gravel. Once the green came back out, Sofronas was able to move up to second and ran down James. Sofronas got right up to James’ rear bumper, but could not prevent the Panoz driver from taking his second win of the year.
In GTSA, Mark Klenin led flag-to-flag to claim the class victory, but he was right up in the overall battle. On the final restart, Klenin got an excellent start in his McLaren to move up to second in GTS behind only James. Over the last couple of laps, he slipped back to fourth of all GTS contenders, but that was more than enough to pick up the win.
BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay was just under six-tenths of a second back at the finish in second. VOLT Racing’s Alan Brynjolfsson made a late charge to take third, followed by Jeff Courtney. Jason Bell was fifth in his GMG Racing Audi.
In addition to claiming the overall victory, Parente turned the fastest lap of the race at 114.064 mph. That gives Parente the overall pole for Race No. 2 on Sunday with a good chance at taking the weekend sweep. In GTA, Fuentes will start on pole, while Sofronas has the GTS pole. Finally, Courtney was fastest in GTSA and will start on pole there.
Race No. 2 of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Road America is due to start at 3:45 p.m. EDT Sunday afternoon after the Verizon IndyCar Series KOHLER Grand Prix. The race will be streamed live at World-Challenge.com.