Former GT series champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal returned to the Pirelli World Challenge winner’s circle Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the PWC GT Sprint Round 5 50-minute race as part of the Castrol presents the Victoria Day Speedfest.
Parente, who switched from the McLaren to the Bentley GT3 sports car in 2018, drove his No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 machine to a three-second victory over his young teammate Rodrigo Baptista of Brazil in the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 car.
Parente, 34, won the 2016 GT title for K-PAX Racing and has totaled 11 GT wins since his debut to the Pirelli World Challenge series in his championship season. The win was an emotional one for Parente, who has suffered two devastating crashes this year on the streets of St. Petersburg and VIRginia International Raceway.
The K-PAX Racing crew received a backup car last week and prepared the Bentley for this weekend’s CTMP doubleheader weekend. Parente’s Bentley was flown from Malaysia to Virginia last Friday and was readied for the CTMP rounds.
“This win is dedicated to the team and to the owner (Jim Haughey) for always believing and investing in this team,” said Parente. “It hasn’t been easy for the guys who have had to rebuild three cars already this season, and we’re barely halfway into the season. So, this win is dedicated to their hard work. I’ve had a few podiums, but this is my first race win this year so I’m feeling good since it’s been a really hard year.
“For strategy, we weren’t competitive yesterday in the wet, so we took the risk with the slicks and it worked out. Today, having one-two position was great for us. I wish it would have been dry yesterday so I could be leaving here with an even bigger smile. But I’m happy for the win today and congratulations to all the guys for all of their hard work to get us here.”
“As far as the strategy going into the race today, I think we won the race yesterday on the choice to go to slick tires,” said Baptista. “Today, I just tried to pass Alvaro but it’s almost impossible to pass on the outside. I just tried to stay with Alvaro for the first five or six laps. The car is good and the only place we lose time compared to the other cars is Turn 5a and 5b. The Bentley is good. We learned a lot from racing and testing at the past few tracks, so we’re looking forward to Lime Rock next week.”
Rounding out the podium Sunday in the 39-lap main event was COTA double race winner Toni Vilander of Finland in the Toronto-based RFerri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 followed by Denmark’s Michael Christensen in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and Saturday’s GT race winner Daniel Morad of Toronto in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Baptista, 21, captured the VIR SprintX race overall with his co-driver Maxine Soulet last month and captured the GTA division Sunday.
Trailing the Brazilian at the checkered flag in GTA was the 2016 GTA series titleholder Martin Fuentes of Mexico in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3 and Saturday’s GTA race winner Parker Chase in the No. 19 TruSpeed Audi R8 LMS GT3 sports car.
The Pirelli World Challenge will now head to the Lime Rock Park road course next weekend (May 25-28) in the annual Memorial Weekend Classic featuring all eight PWC classes.
Rounds 6 and 7 of the GT Sprint series are scheduled for June 23-25 at the historic Road America four-mile circuit in Wisconsin. All Pirelli World Challenge races can be seen live on www.world-challenge.com and heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 383 (app channel 983).