Photo: PWC

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

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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.


Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.