Mid-Ohio PWC: Parente scores dramatic GT pole
Reigning Pirelli World Challenge GT champion Alvaro Parente waited until the last lap in qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to capture the pole position over Cadillac’s Michael Cooper and Johnny O’Connell.
Parente, the 32-year-old factory McLaren driver from Portugal, swapped the top spot with Cooper and O’Connell at the historic 2.258-mile, 13-turn road circuit. He lapped his K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S in 1m19.748s (101.93mph) for P1 when it mattered.
“It was definitely a very tough qualifying session,” said Parente. “I thought when I did the 1:20.0 that it would have been pole, that we could have held off for the seven minutes. But, it wasn’t the case.
“We came in, lowered pressures, did a little bit of a different strategy, went back out and the car was working well on the track. We improved a little bit and it was really cool to get those last two quick laps at the end.”
With one minute remaining in qualifying, Cooper jumped to the top of the charts in his No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. with a lap of 1m19.841s, but Parente stole the show with just 24 seconds left in the 20-minute session.
Cooper pipped his teammate O’Connell, the four-time PWC GT champion, for second on the grid.
“That is probably the most intense qualifying session I have been involved in since I’ve been in GT,” Cooper said. “Everyone was just getting faster and faster each lap. I had to hit the fuel reserve late in the session to get just one more lap in.
“I had to be careful not to cause a red flag by stopping on track. I laid the lap down and then had to go slow and stay out of everyone’s way on my ‘in’ lap. I think the race will be the same as the qualifying session – very close. The track will get faster every lap.”
Rounding out the top-five in GT qualifying Friday were Kyle Marcelli (R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488) and current GT Sprint points leader Patrick Long (Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R).
In the GTS class, Harry Gottsacker scored pole position on his 18th birthday, driving a Ginetta G55.
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