Reigning Pirelli World Challenge GT Champion, Alvaro Parente, drove a smart race to claim the season’s first win in his K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S. Alec Udell claimed the honors in GTA as well as Preston Calvert in GT Cup.
The first race of the 2017 PWC season commenced with a great show for fans as drivers of eight different GT3 marques diced through 14 turns on the streets of St. Petersburg. Series rookie Daniel Mancinelli led the field to the green flag in his Ferrari 488 and was quickly under pressure from Pierre Kaffer’s Audi R8. The front half of the field displayed anything but patience jockeying for each position, but kept the aggressive moves clean enough to keep the race green.
Kaffer made a couple of attempts for the lead, but Parente forced his way to second place in the early going. After getting around Kaffer’s Audi, Parent made short work of the Ferrari, taking the lead before the first and only break in action of the day.
The racing action was interrupted only once for Marko Radisic’s Ferrari Evo Challenge that caught fire coming out of Turn 14. After a period of clean up, the field jumped back to green with about half of the race remaining and only one GT Cup entry. An orderly restart cautiously gapped by leader Parente would soon lead to more aggressive racing, especially for the remaining podium spots.
Patrick Long immediately began stalking Johnny O’Connell’s Cadillac ATS-V but the Porsche 911 was not able to get around until 12 minutes remained. Coming out of Turn 14, the Cadillac was held up by contact with James Davison’s Aston Martin Vantage allowing Long to make the break to fourth.
The steady pace of the opening round erupted in a flurry of moves during the closing stages. In what looked to originate as a block on Long, Davison dove to the inside of Kaffer into the first corner, taking second. Long tried to follow, Kaffer was able to defend as the two German machines made contact that would cut a tire on the Audi and force it out of contention for the race win. Mancinelli’s Ferrari was taken out of content after final lap contact when O’Connell was attempting a pass.
Chaos behind the leader allowed Parente to smoothly sail to the race win followed by Davison and Long, Bryan Sellers and Alex Riberas completed the top five.
Round 2 of the 2017 PWC season is scheduled to take the green flag tomorrow at 3:15 PM Eastern and can be streamed at World-Challenge.com/streamvideo.