Johnny O’Connell scored a flag-to-flag victory in Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge Sprint season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, while Alvaro Parente claimed the GT Drivers’ Championship in dramatic fashion after a last-lap incident between O’Connell and Patrick Long.
O’Connell crossed the line 0.464 seconds ahead of Parente, after the Cadillac driver and Long made contact while battling for the lead on the final-lap restart.
Long, who was running second at the time, lost the championship to K-PAX Racing’s Parente due to the contact in Turn 5, which sent his Porsche 911 GT3 R off course. He finished fifth.
It marked McLaren GT factory driver Parente’s first PWC title while the Flying Lizard Motorsports-run K-PAX squad picked up the GT Teams’ Title and McLaren won the Manufacturers’ Championship.
O’Connell, meanwhile, earned his fourth win of the season, although Parente ended his championship streak with four consecutive titles, from 2012-15.
The No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R of Michael Cooper made it a double podium finish for the Pratt & Miller squad, with the No. 05 Always Evolving Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Bryan Heitkotter coming home fourth overall and in the GT class.
The 50-minute race saw three full-course cautions, including a heavy single-car accident for the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra of Drew Regitz, who went off in Turn 2 with 10 minutes to go.
It set up a one-lap dash to the finish that ultimately turned the championship upside down.
Cooper MacNeil took his No. 79 Alex Job Racing Porsche to class victory in GTA, following a final-lap accident for the then class-leading No. 16 Wright Porsche of Michael Schein, who went off in Turn 10.
MacNeil earned his first career PWC class win, with the No. 54 Black Swan Racing entry of Tim Pappas making it a Porsche 1-2 in class for the two former IMSA entrants.
GT Cup also saw a first-time winner in Corey Fergus, who took his No. 00 Motorsports Promotions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to a 0.636-second victory over the No. 20 TruSpeed Autosport Porsche of Sloan Urry.
RESULTS: Race 2