PWC: Parente defeats Long, water main at Long Beach

Photo: PWC
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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Alvaro Parente is now two-for-two in winning the Pirelli World Challenge races at Long Beach, even if both race victories have been slightly abnormal.

Last year, the driver of the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 won after the checkered flag when race winner Johnny O’Connell was moved to second for an overboost penalty.

Today, Parente not only toppled the rest of the 22-car field, but survived a water main break that interrupted the scheduled 50-minute race midway through on Seaside Way, in-between Turns 8 and 9.

The race had been fairly uneventful until a passenger car reportedly hit a fire hydrant on the intersection of E. Ocean Blvd. and S. Hart Pl., which then sent about a 20-foot river of water onto the course.

Parente came on it unabated, but was able to skid through the water, slow his speed and then ensure the rest of the field also slowed down enough before there was any incidents.

The race went to full-course yellow conditions and then red flag while the track crew and PWC officials helped to dry the track.

Through some great cooperation from all parties, including the event promoter, the race was able to restart and was only shortened by two minutes to a 48-minute affair. It ensured a majority of the race could be run as 15 extra minutes were added to the session.

Parente held off Patrick Long in the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R for the win, with Parente’s teammate Bryan Sellers scoring his first PWC podium in third in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.

Both Ferrari 488 GT3s in the field, Daniel Mancinelli and Alex Riberas, completed the top five.

Past overall winner James Sofronas captured an overall top 10 finish in his No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R to win the GTA class, thus keeping the team’s streak of wins this year alive. Alec Udell won GTA both races at St. Petersburg in his No. 17 Euroworld Motorsports Porsche, however the talented 21-year-old was promoted to GT by PWC series officials prior to Long Beach this weekend.

It topped off an eventful week for the Newport Beach native and Santa Ana-based team, when they had their open house a week ago but then had a trailer and other car equipment stolen not long after. Most of the parts have been recovered thanks to some good onlookers but some equipment remains outstanding at this time.

More to follow later this week.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.