Michael Cooper won Race 1 of the Pirelli World Challenge championship weekend at Sonoma Raceway for Cadillac Racing, while Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long clinched the Overall championship with a third-place result.
From his starting spot on the outside of the front row in the No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R, Cooper had swept past polesitter Daniel Mancinelli and into the lead by the time the field hit Turn 1.
The main championship protagonists did their part to make it interesting heading into the title bout on Sunday afternoon, with second-place points man Alvaro Parente and championship leader Long taking the remaining spots on the podium in second and third, respectively.
After struggling for pace through practice and qualifying, Parente put on a show once the green flag fell in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
From seventh on the starting grid, the defending series champion was up to fifth in the opening laps.
He methodically made his way into podium contention from there, passing Long’s Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R for fourth with 35-minutes to go and Ryan Dalziel’s CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 for third ten minutes later.
Parente eventually passed pole sitter Daniel Mancinelli’s TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 for second with 16 minutes remaining, with Long following him past and into third one lap later.
Critically for settling the Sprint championship, Long set the fastest lap of the race, earning the pole position and a valuable bonus point heading into the season finale on Sunday.
Pierre Kaffer came home fourth for Magnus Racing with Mancinelli completing the top-five, while James Sofronas clinched the GTA Sprint Championship for GMG Racing.
Michael Schein took the win in GTA in his Wright Motorsports Porsche, while Yuki Harata won in GT Cup for Dream Racing Motorsport.
The race ran caution-free from start to finish.
The result also locked in the manufacturer’s championship for Porsche, leaving Cadillac and McLaren three points apart in the fight for second place on Sunday.
Long unofficially carries a 179-175 point margin over Parente in the Sprint championship heading into the season finale, which is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. PT Sunday.
RESULTS: Race 1