Parente makes push for top-five in final laps
GRANTSVILLE, Utah – At about 4,500-feet elevation, K-PAX Racing moved mountains in Rounds 7 & 8 of Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX competition at Utah Motorsports Campus. Both K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 cars finished inside the top-10 in each race, but it was the No. 9 of Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat in the finale that made the biggest impact in the team’s pursuit toward an overall championship title.
“We are really pleased to come out of today fourth with Alvaro and Ben,” Program Manager Darren Law said. “That race gave us great points, and we put Patrick [Long] a couple spots back. I mean, I have to give it to Alvaro. To get the last few positions on the last two laps was awesome. Overall it was a bit of a tough weekend, but we need to take with us the positives. We came away with good points, and we’re looking forward to the next one.”
The No. 6 of Bryan Sellers and Michael Lewis finished 10th in the opener, and they improved the next day by finishing seventh in the finale. Parente and Barnicoat were one position shy of a top-five finish in the opener, but redeemed themselves with a hard-fought fourth-place finish to conclude the weekend.
Barnicoat and Lewis – who both started the race – felt pressure from the field early in the caution-ridden finale. They fell back a few spots in the opening laps because of the heavy traffic. Barnicoat recouped a couple spots before handing the wheel off to Parente. The defending series champion carried a strong pace throughout his stint, swiftly making his way into sixth position with 20-minutes remaining. Parente was fixed on a top-five finish or better, and unlike Saturday’s opener had enough real-estate to make his move – barely.
In the closing laps, Parente charged by the No. 3 of Cadillac Racing’s Ricky Taylor. Thereon, he found himself bumper-to-bumper with points leader Patrick Long. Through the “Attitude” section – turns 8-10 of the 15-turn course – Parente wedged his car underneath Long’s No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. He secured the spot through the final corners and created more than a five-tenths of a second cushion into the checkered flag.
Sellers, who piloted the No. 6 car across the finish line, used a series of restarts to advance through the field. On one of the final restarts Sellers chased down the seventh spot, and he too created a buffer greater than five-tenths of a second.
Lewis made his debut in the No. 6 car during the event opener, but said there were no additional learning curves to the change. Though he was competing in the No. 98 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car earlier this season, he was still working with everyone on the team right along. Law said he was very happy with what he saw from the Sellers-Lewis combination.
“Michael stepped-up and jumped-in with Bryan,” Law said. “Their partnership has been fantastic, and they’re getting along really well. Michael has been a great addition to that program, and I think he’ll be great for the team next race.”
In the opener, Parente – who is typically a strong starter – was awarded the Optima Batteries “Best Start of the Race.” When the green flag waved the 30-car field into the first turn of the 3.048-mile course, Parente swiftly shifted to the outside. Through the 15 turns he overtook three cars, improving by three positions from a ninth-place start.
The series will continue its SprintX schedule when it stops at Circuit of the Americas (Tex.) from September 1-3. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 6th, Race 2 – 4th) – “It was a very exciting race. We got a lot out of the weekend – more than what we expected at first. So for me, it feels great to have this result at the end considering the pace we had the whole weekend. The last laps were very exciting, especially when I did a move on the Porsche. I managed to finish in front of him, which helps us in the points.”
Ben Barnicoat – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 6th, Race 2 – 4th) – “I didn’t have the best of starts from 11th, and I got boxed in by a lot of cars. I did get a really good shot off the line as soon as it went green, but then a couple of Porsches boxed me in. We really didn’t have anywhere to go. I swallowed what I had losing a couple of positions. Later in the stint, as the guys’ tires start to wear-away, I managed to make a few good positions up again. Then we had a good pit stop and we were in sixth after we got passed the GTA cars. He then had some great maneuvers to get us into P4. Hats off to him. He really did a great job the last few laps. So, it would have been nice if we could have had a better start – on the podium – but if I had tried to get any more positions, there likely would have been a crash. I did what I could.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 10th, Race 2 – 7th) – “Michael did a great job at the opening. My stint – believe it or not – was an uneventful one. We were yellow most of the time and in the other laps we were in traffic. I never really had the opportunity to assess what the car was like or really even push at all. But we ended up a little better than what we were yesterday. I gained a couple more spots and the car was better. So, all-in-all we had a positive weekend.”
Michael Lewis – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 10th, Race 2 – 7th) – “A big thank you to the K-PAX team for making some really fast cars and giving us good equipment for both races. In the second race, Bryan Sellers made it happen on the restart. He got a good jump into 7th. For me on stint one, I was just trying to keep it clean and get some spots. But, I had to fight prettyhard and we fell back. It was just managing my tires and the car for Bryan so he could do his thing on the second stint. Just a big thank you to everyone for having confidence in me to give Bryan a good shot at a good result.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 105 podiums, 43 wins and four driver championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In 2014, K-PAX Racing expanded its relationship with McLaren GT, bringing two new 2015 McLaren 650S GT3 race cars into competition. The renewed effort kept K-PAX Racing at the forefront of competition, becoming a serious championship contender in the seasons to follow. In 2016, the team expanded to three full season McLaren 650S GT3 race cars, and clinched the Pirelli World Challenge Team, Driver, and Manufacturer Championships.
About McLaren GT
McLaren has been a pioneer and setting benchmarks on the tracks around the world for 50 years, and the latest range of GT racing models based on the road-going McLaren Automotive range is no different. McLaren GT was established in 2011 to develop, build and support all GT race activities. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the 650S GT3, 570S GT4, and 650S and 570S Sprint models.