Veteran Alvaro Parente paced the Pirelli World Challenge GT practice rounds Friday at the Road America road circuit in preparation for the GT/GTS Sprint doubleheader weekend as part of the Kohler Grand Prix.
Parente, the 2016 PWC GT overall series champion, drove the yellow and black No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to the quickest lap of the day at 2m5.551 seconds to lead the GT field with an average speed of 115.40 miles per hour. Parente’s top lap was set in the second of three PWC practice rounds.
The Bentley Continental GT3 sports car has been successful in the past at Road America with Pirelli World Challenge race wins in 2015 (Chris Dyson) and 2017 (Adderly Fong).
“The Bentley felt good today in the opening day of practice,” said Parente, a GT Sprint race winner at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last month. “The car has been good in the past at Road America and we believe we have a solid car for this weekend’s events. The K-PAX Racing team has worked so hard this year and it feels good to have their hard work paying off. Now, we have to set up the car for qualifying and Saturday’s 50-minute race. I’m looking forward to the Saturday action.”
Second in the GT practice runs Friday at Road America was current GT Sprint series point leader Scott Hargrove of Canada with a 2:06.199 (114.80 mph) in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R followed by recent 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Michael Christensen of Denmark in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 2:06.263 (114.44mph). Hargrove’s best speeds were recorded in the third practice round, while Christensen’s top time was clocked in the first practice session.
Rounding out the top five GT drivers Friday in Pirelli World Challenge practice were Long beach GT Sprint race winner Daniel Mancinelli of Italy in the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 at 2:06.860 (114.20mph) and CTMP GT Sprint race winner Daniel Morad of Canada in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 at 2:06.963 (113.81mph). Current GT Overall point leader Toni Vilander of Finland was sixth in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 at 2:07.042 (114.04 m.p.h.)
Pacing the GTA division Friday was 2016 GTA champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico with a 2:07.899 (113.28mph) in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Italia Ferrari 488 GT3.
In fact, nine of the top-ten GT drivers in Friday practice were different nationalities (Portugal, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Brazil, Mexico, United States and Japan).
Reigning GTS series champion Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., led the 24-driver GTS field Friday in his No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R at 2:19.366 (113.86mph). Aschenbach has four straight GTS Sprint race victories in 2018.
Local favorite Jeff Courtney of Milwaukee was second overall in the GTS field and the leading GTS Am driver Friday with his No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati Grand Turismo GT4 at 2:19.678 (103.72mph) followed by Jade Buford of Nashville, Tenn., in the No. 55 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 at 2:19.729 (103.69mph).
Completing the GTS top-five Friday were GTS Overall point leader James Sofronas of Villa Park, Calif., in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS at 2:20.056 (103.44mph) and 2017 Road America GTS double race winner Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz., at 2:20.207 (103.33mph) in the No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4.
Aschenbach’s top GTS speed of the day was in the first practice, while Buford was quickest in the second practice. Courtney’s top run was in the third practice in GTS.
Saturday’s Pirelli World Challenge competition at Road America will include qualifying for GT/GTA classes at 9:20 a.m. CT with GTS/GTSA divisions at 9:40 a.m. CT. Saturday’s combined GT/GTS 50-minute event is set for 4:35 p.m. CT. On Sunday, the GT/GTS combined 50-minute race will begin at 2:45 p.m. CT.