Outside pole-sitter Michael Cooper swept past Race 1 winner Alvaro Parente going into Turn 1 on the opening lap of the race and held him off the rest of the way to claim top honors in Race 2 Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.
The win was the first in GT competition for the reigning Pirelli World Challenge GTS champion and his first in the Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3.
Cooper built a comfortable margin in the opening minutes of the race but traffic and a good long-run setup on Parente’s McLaren 650S GT3 brought the K-PAX Racing driver back in to the fight for the lead.
The battle reached its climax in the final five minutes as Parente could consistently get his McLaren to the back of the Cadillac, but could not find a way by.
Cooper’s final margin of victory was a mere 0.888 seconds.
Johnny O’Connell hunted down the leading pair and applied heavy pressure to Parente for second but was forced to settle for third in the Velocity Red liveried Cadillac.
Patrick Long and his teammate Michael Lewis took fourth and fifth for EFFORT Racing in the twin Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, with Bryan Heitkotter crossing the line behind them in sixth in the No. 05 Always Evolving Nissan GTR GT3.
Adderly Fong, James Davison, Kyle Marcelli, and Andrew Palmer completed the top ten for Bentley, Nissan, Audi, and Bentley, respectively.
Five different manufacturers were represented in the top-seven and six in the top-10.
The win and yesterday’s second-place finish will provide a championship boost for Cooper, who came into the weekend third in the points standings behind his teammate Johnny O’Connell and EFFORT’s Lewis.
It was a similarly strong weekend for Parente who entered the weekend in fourth place behind Cooper and also notched a win and a second.
Outside of the GT class, Frankie Montecalvo appeared poised for a breakthrough win in GTA until his No. 66 Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 slowed in the final five minutes.
That allowed Martin Fuentes to overcome a multi-second deficit to continue his dominance of the class.
It was Fuentes’ seventh win of the season in seven races in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Alec Udell won his second race of the weekend in GT Cup competition for GMG Racing, with Sloan Urry and Preston Calvert finishing second and third respectively.
The race ran green for the entire 50-minutes of the event.
The next round of the Pirelli World Challenge season is May 19-22 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
That weekend will see the return of the TC/TCA/TCB classes alongside GT/GTA/GT Cup, in addition to the debut of the new Sprint X Series.
RESULTS: Race 2