Lexington, OH – Rounds 14 and 15 of the Pirelli World Challenge delivered mixed results this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for K-PAX Racing. The trio of McLaren 650S GT3s tested at the 2.4 mile road course earlier in the month prior to the double header event in preparation for the race weekend. The test paid off, as all three cars were quick from the start of the weekend, resulting in the team earning both pole positions and a fifth win of the 2016 season.
Having been able to experiment with various car set ups in wet and dry conditions, the team ran all three McLaren 650S GT3s during the test, the team felt prepared for the mixed weather throughout the weekend. After the final practice was rained out on the first day, there was little time to finalize the setup before qualifying. Rookie Austin Cindric qualified the following morning to earn not only his first GT class pole position but also set a new track record for Pirelli World Challenge GT Class beating the previous record set by Ryan Dalziel by 0.041 seconds. Born in Ohio, the 17 year old utilized his significant knowledge of the track to his advantage, out qualifying teammate and McLaren Factory driver Alvaro Parente. New to the track, Parente impressively qualified right behind in second, securing a K-PAX Racing sweep of the front row. Teammate Colin Thompson landed close behind, securing a seventh place starting position.
In race one, Cindric and the No. 6 McLaren 650S GT3 led the field to green, but the race went to yellow in the opening lap. Following the restart, Parente and the No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 was able to get past Cindric, taking the lead before the race went back to full course caution. The duo ran first and second with Thompson in seventh, when disaster struck for Thompson. With 30 minutes remaining on the clock, Thompson’s No. 13 McLaren 650S GT3 suffered contact from another car, turning it sideways on track. Oncoming traffic slammed into Thompson, disabling the machine and bringing out another full course caution. The car suffered heavy damage, ending the weekend early for Thompson. Parente and Cindric led the field to the checker flag, earning championship points leader Alvaro Parente his fifth win of the season and Cindric a season high finish of second place.
Parente and Cindric started first and third in race two, but trouble struck the team in the opening laps, shuffling both drivers back several positions. Parente led the team charge in third, but issues with Cindric’s boost control resulted in a lengthy pit stop, effectively taking the young racer out of contention. Once the team reached the point in the race necessary to obtain points, Cindric’s crew called him in to pit lane, ending his race early. Maintaining his tires for a late race charge, Parente had fallen a several car lengths back in the early part of the race but maintained a steady third position. As the race continued incident free, Parente closed the gap to the leaders to get within less than a second of second position. As the top three cars worked their way through lapped traffic, they approached a slower GTA car in turn 13. The lapped car allowed first two cars pass, but moved over on Parente. The move pushed Parente wide and forced the McLaren onto the grass on the front straight to avoid contact. Upon returning to the track, the radiator inlets were blocked with grass, which caused the engine temperatures in the car to immediately rise. With 12 minutes remaining, the team was forced to pit Parente and clear the debris. He rejoined in 14th to salvage as many lost points as possible.
While Cadillac’s Michael Cooper closed in on the championship points lead this weekend, Parente still holds the top spot in the GT Driver standings. K-PAX Racing also holds the top spot in the GT Team Championship, and McLaren GT leads Porsche and Cadillac in the Manufacturer’s points battle. Five races in three event weekends remain this season, leaving the Pirelli World Challenge championship still up for grabs. In just ten days, the race to the front continues at Miller Motorsports Park August 12-14, for Rounds 16 and 17 of the 20 round championship.
K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsport
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 72 podiums, 25 wins and three driver championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. in 2014, K-PAX Racing expanded it’s relationship with McLaren GT, bringing two new 2015 McLaren 650S GT3 race cars into competition. The team also hired Flying Lizard Motorsports, utilizing the team’s engineering, crew and marketing to strengthen the fight for the championship. The renewed effort kept K-PAX Racing at the forefront of competition, earning four wins and an additional four podiums. For 2016, the team will run three full season McLaren 650S GT3 race cars full season in the Pirelli World Challenge.
About McLaren GT
McLaren GT is the GT race car manufacturing arm of McLaren Group established to develop, build and support the GT racing and track derivatives of the 12C sports car, and the 650S GT3. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the GT3 variants of the 12C and 650S, the 12C GT Can-Am Edition and the 12C GT Sprint.