BIRMINGHAM, AL (April 23, 2016) — Alvaro Parente scored the win in GT Round 6 at the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Martin Fuentes was victorious in GTA, while Alec Udell won GT Cup Round 5.
The race was held under clear, sunny 77-degree weather conditions. When the green flag flew, pole sitter Michael Cooper, in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V. R GT3, drag raced with Parente, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, down the front straight. Parente won the race through turn 1 to take the lead. Cooper’s teammate, four-time and defending 2015 GT Driver’s Champion Johnny O’Connell slotted in behind Cooper in 3rd in his No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
In GTA, pole sitter Fuentes, in the 07 Hublot, Under Armour Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, maintained his position in class, 15th overall in the race, while Frankie Montecalvo, in the No. 66 Dime R&D Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3, slotted in behind second in class and 16th overall.
In GT Cup, pole sitter Udell, in the No. 17 Amsource Capital/Panther Pipeline Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, led over Corey Fergus, in the No. 00 Byers Porsche/US LED Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
By lap 3, Parente held a .629 lead over Cooper and was 2.136 seconds up on O’Connell. JD Davison, in the No. 33 Nissan/GT Academy Nissan GT3 GT-R, moved up to 4th from his starting position of 8th. On the same lap, Montecalvo entered the pits with a mechanical issue but would later return to the track. With Montecalvo in the pits, Michael Schein, in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, picked up the chase of Fuentes, while Joseph Toussaint, in the No. 90 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, slotted in third in class.
On lap 5, Udell continued to build a lead in GT Cup, as fellow competitor Sloan Urry, the GT Cup points leader heading into Barber, in the No. 20 Security National/Avasis Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, spun through turns 5 and 6. Prior to the spin, Urry was pursuing Fergus for second. The driver of the No. 20 machine righted his car and re-joined the race.
On lap 8, Race Control issued a full-course yellow to remove the wounded No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 driven by Colin Thompson. Thompson’s machine contacted the wall on the inside of turn 4. After the race, Thompson said it was a possible mechanical issue that had caused him to go off track.
The safety car picked up the field with Parente, Cooper, O’Connell, Davison and Bryan Heitkotter, in the No. 05 Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT3 the top 5 in GT, while Fuentes, Schein and Toussaint were the top 3 in GTA, and Udell, Fergus, Preston Calvert, in the No. 77 Calvert Dynamics/Phoenix Performance Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the top 3 in GT Cup.
On the Lap 13 restart, Parente launched cleanly into the lead, with Cooper and O’Connell in pursuit. Both Fuentes and Udell continued to lead in their respective classes.
Farther back in the field, a pitched battle emerged in GT for positions 11 through 14 with Austin Cindric, in the No. 6 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3, Ryan Eversley, in the No. 43 Acura/HPD/Red Line Oil/RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GT, Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 2 DeVilbiss/Hawk Performance Audi R8 LMS Ultra and Jon Fogarty, in the No. 99 Gainsco Auto Insurance McLaren 650S GT3, all dicing for position.
For the balance of the race, Parente maintained a roughly three-car lead over Cooper and at the checkered, he scored his second career PWC win in as many races crossing the line 1.046 seconds ahead of Cooper, and 1.493 seconds ahead of O’Connell. In GTA, Schein had closed up on Fuentes but the driver of the No. 07 machine hit his marks and defended well and Schein never got close enough to attempt a pass for the lead. For Fuentes, it’s his sixth consecutive win in what has been a dominating start to the 2016 season. Udell never came under pressure during the race and crossed the line ahead of Fergus and Urry — it’s his second win of the 2016 season and fifth of his PWC career.
Of note, Davison won the Optima Batteries Best Start award, gaining four positions on the first lap. Patrick Long, in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing/World PMO Porsche 911 GT3R, won the Motortrendonline.com Clean Pass of the Race award for his pass on Heitkotter to secure 5th on the day. Cooper was awarded the Cadillac ATS-V.R Move of the Race for deftly moving around lapped traffic near the end of the race to ensure his second place finish. Peter Cunningham, in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Acura TLX-GT, was awarded the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger for gaining seven positions during the race.
“It looked a lot calmer in the race than it was inside my car as this was a very difficult race,” said Parente. “Early in the race I knew I would have trouble with my rear tires. I was fighting with my car more than I wanted to. I had to drive hard but I didn’t want the rear tires to go away. I knew that the smallest mistake and Cooper would get by me. And O’Connell was right there too. There were two critical parts in the race that I had to be careful. There were some big moments for me today. We haven’t had too much trouble this year with the car but it is something I need to watch for in Sunday’s race. I am beginning to get used to the tracks and the new team here in North America. Obviously, I know the McLaren 650S very well as I helped develop the car. The team plays a big part in helping me this year as it’s my first time racing in the U.S. I’m still learning several things here like starts and restarts. In Europe, we start with lights and here it is with the flag. K-PAX has helped me a lot with these things. To win a race in America and Europe is still the same. It’s very competitive. This win really tastes good because the series is so competitive and I am new to the Pirelli World Challenge too. I was really fighting big time for the win today. So it feels so good to get to the top of the podium. Plus, I did it on the track this time (rather than the Long Beach win in post-race).”
“This race was very different from the previous races this year,” said Fuentes. “Mike (Schein) really gave me a battle today. And from the start, Montecalvo was battling me for the lead. I was able to get away a little bit but the yellow flag from Colin’s (Thompson) spin put the pack very close. Some of the GT drivers were not on a good pace here at Barber and it is tough to pass. So I had to run right behind the GT drivers and Mike was very close and challenging me for the lead. If we would have had 100 more yards in the straightaway, I think he would have passed me. It was a good race with Mike today and I’m very glad I got the win. Last year was difficult for me as I was learning all of the tracks since it was my first year in PWC. It was great to get my first win here last year at Barber. Now, we have such a tremendous start with six wins that I can’t say enough about the Scuderia Corsa team and the Ferrari 458 Italia. We did a lot of practice here in the off-season too.”
“We had a great race as we led from the beginning and really didn’t look back,” said Udell. “The guys from GMG Motorsports gave me a great car today and I give them the credit. Second place in points isn’t the place I want to be right now. But there is a lot of time left in the season and I hope we can grab the point lead in the near future. I’m in a good position now, being just 12 points behind Sloan (Urry). I hope to close up the point gap on Sunday and then head to Canada (CTMP) for a real battle. I think we have an attainable goal to lead the championship after the Canada round. I made a mistake at St. Pete that put us back a little but the team did a great job getting the car back together and very competitive. We had a good race in the second St. Pete event and I even set fastest lap.”
“On the start I didn’t have my engine RPM up enough and I was a little slow reacting,” said Cooper. “Parente nailed the start and just got by me. I was making some gains on some parts of the track on him before the yellow. Maybe if it went a few more laps at that time I would’ve had a shot at him. When the tires cycled through after the yellow I just couldn’t get back to him to make a pass. Tomorrow I start second. We will take a look at everything tonight and see if we can go a little a quicker.”
Results are provisional until posted final. GT/GTA and GT Cup drivers next take to the track on Sunday starting at 9:15 am Central for Rounds 7 (GT/GTA) and 6 (GT Cup). With the fastest race laps in Saturday’s race, Parente (GT), Montecalvo (GTA) and Udell (GT Cup) will start on pole in their respective classes. Watch the race live at motortrendondemand.com and follow live timing and scoring at world-challenge.com.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Results from Saturday, April 23, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championship GT/GTA Round 6, GT Cup Round 5, at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche, part of the 7th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Drivers listed by Position, Place in Class, Name, Hometown, Car, Laps.
1. 1, GT, Alvaro Parente, Porto Portugal, McLaren 650S GT3, 31
2. 2, GT, Michael Cooper, Syosset NY, Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3, 31
3. 3, GT, Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch GA, Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3, 31
4. 4, GT, JD Davison, Denver CO, Nissan GTR GT3, 31
5. 5, GT, Patrick Long, Manhattan Beach CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 31
6. 6, GT, Bryan Heitkotter, Fresno CA, Nissan GTR GT3, 31
7. 7, GT, Michael Lewis, Laguna Beach CA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 31
8. 8, GT, Andrew Palmer, Los Angeles CA, Bentley Continental GT3, 31
9. 9, GT, Andrew Davis, Athens GA, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 31
10. 10, GT, Adderly Fong, Hong Kong, Bentley Continental GT3, 31
11. 11, GT, Kyle Marcelli, Barrie Canada, Audi R8 LMS GT3, 31
12. 12, GT, Jon Fogarty, Bend OR, McLaren 650S GT3, 31
13. 13, GT, Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee WI, Acura TLX-GT, 31
14. 14, GT, Austin Cindric, Charlotte NC, McLaren 650S GT3, 31
15. 1, GTA, Martin Fuentes, Mexico City Mexico, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, 31
16. 2, GTA, Michael Schein, Glen Cove NY, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 31
17. 3, GTA, Drew Regitz, Denver CO, Audi R8 LMS GT3, 31
18. 4, GTA, Joseph Toussaint, Houston TX, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 31
19. 1, GT Cup, Alec Udell, The Woodlands TX, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 31
20. 2, GT Cup, Corey Fergus, Columbus OH, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 30
21. 3, GT Cup, Sloan Urry, Park City UT, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 30
22. 4, GT Cup, Preston Calvert, Potomac MD, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 30
23. 5, GTA, Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands NJ, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, 29
24. 20, GT, Ryan Eversley, Atlanta GA, Acura TLX-GT, 28
25. 6, GTA, Walt Bowlin, Tarpon Springs FL, Audi R8, 27
26. 22, GT, Colin Thompson, Doylestown PA, McLaren 650S GT3, 7