UPDATED: Parente wins PWC after O’Connell gets post-race penalty

Photo: PWC
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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Alvaro Parente has inherited the win in the Pirelli World Challenge’s trip to Long Beach, after a post-race penalty was assessed to Johnny O’Connell, who won the race on track.

Provisional winner O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R was penalized for a post-race technical inspection. O’Connell received a 10-second penalty and finished second in the 30-lap feature. Patrick Long placed third.

“I have mixed emotions about winning the race this way,” Parente said. “I would have liked to have won the race on the track. We had a near perfect weekend with winning the pole position and racing for the win. It’s too bad that Johnny (O’Connell) was penalized because we had a great race today.

“But I am happy to win at a famed track like Long Beach in my first appearance. I’m happy for the KPAX team and McLaren and I look forward to racing next week at Barber (Motorsports Park).”

O’Connell offered this up after the race, about the penalty:

“In post-race tech they found we had a few boost spikes that were not to their liking,” he said. “From what I understand these were when we were in traction control situations, so not a speed advantage at all. But rules are rules. A second place finish does not take away from the accomplishment of Cadillac Racing today. I am proud of the team.”

So how did they get there? Read on below.

O’Connell was looking for a rebound this year, after he arguably got jobbed last year. He got hit by Olivier Beretta after Beretta bumped into Kevin Estre, who then bumped into O’Connell at Turn 8.

The driver of the Velocity Red No. 3 Cadillac started second and ran behind polesitter Parente, in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 for the opening stanza of the race, a majority of which was run under caution.

But following the second full-course caution of the race, O’Connell made a bold move to the inside of Parente through the kink on Shoreline Drive.

It set him up for the outside of the corner going into Turn 1, but gave him enough of an edge to secure the lead.

With more than one second in hand the rest of the way, O’Connell won by 1.138 seconds over Parente. It’s O’Connell’s second race win of the year (COTA Race 2).

Patrick Long finished third in the No. 31 EFFORT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R after starting fourth, and after also holding off a possible late race charge from Michael Cooper, who was flying en route from last on the 22-car grid.

The past GTS and TC class champion in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R methodically worked through the field but lost his charge when he pitted on Lap 27 of the 30-lap race.

The reasoning? Cooper spun and lost the back end at Turn 5. Then Andrew Palmer, who had nowhere to go in the No. 87 Bentley Team Absolute Bentley Continental GT3, nosed into the wall as well. Both apparently slipped on oil.

That knocked them back from fourth and fifth to 15th and 10th, respectively.

Rounding out the top five was James Davison and Kyle Marcelli, the latter of whom bouncing back nicely from a late race accident in Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

Martin Fuentes continued his roll in GTA, with another win for Scuderia Corsa in his No. 07 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 not far from the team’s headquarters.

Provisional results were below, prior to the change.

Note accidents for Austin Cindric after a nightmare weekend for him, and got contacted by James Sofronas exiting Turn 8, and Bryan Heitkotter, who crashed in Turn 1 in the No. 05 Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

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Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds