Alvaro Parente eked out a hard-fought pole for Race 1 of the Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, besting Michael Cooper by a mere 0.093 seconds.
The K-PAX Racing driver, who won Race 1 in his No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 a year ago en route to the 2016 GT class championship, led a gaggle of seven competitors that all qualified less than a half-second of each other at the front of the field.
Cooper and his Cadillac Racing teammate Johnny O’Connell put the Cadillac ATS-V.R in the second and third spots on the provisional grid, respectively, with Kyle Marcelli an impressive fourth in R. Ferri Motorsport’s return to competition.
Patrick Long took the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to fifth, followed by Bryan Sellers in the No. 6 K-PAX McLaren and Ryan Dalziel’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 in seventh for CRP Racing.
Parente’s pole-winning lap of 1:19.748 came up 0.351 seconds shy of the track qualifying record set last year by then-teammate Austin Cindric.
Michael Schein backed up his strong practice performance by qualifying on the GTA pole in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, topping GMG Racing’s James Sofronas by 0.296 seconds.
Meanwhile, Dream Racing driver Yuki Harata beat Marko Radisic to the GT Cup pole.
Race 1 for the GT, GTA, and GT Cup competitors is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday.