Barnicoat, Lewis rejoin teammates to climb GT-X points ladder
SONOMA, Calif. – K-PAX Racing will return to Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX action August 11-13 at Utah Motorsports Campus. With five more rounds remaining in the class schedule, the team will look to build on its top-five standing in the GT-X championship with a track where it has seen success.
The team’s most recent triumph at the 24-turn, 3.048-mile road course came in 2014. Fielding two McLaren 12C GT3 cars at the time, the team won the Sprint GT event finale. Returning to a two-driver setup in this season’s championship campaign, the team’s two upgraded McLaren 650S GT3 cars will seek a similar result in Rounds 7 & 8 of SprintX.
Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat have not only displayed their finesse behind the wheel of the No. 9 car, but also have shown how much they have grown as a unit – competing together both nationally and internationally throughout the 2017 season.
The two have stood on the podium in three of the last four SprintX races. Notably, Barnicoat co-drove the No. 9 car to a second-place finish at VIRginia International Raceway in late-March, which was his first sports car event in the United States. In the series’ most recent SprintX event at Lime Rock Park (Conn.), Parente and Barnicoat finished third in both races.
“I have loved my successful season with K-PAX so far,” Barnicoat said. “Getting my first sports car podiums with the team and Alvaro are incredible moments of my career that I will remember for a lifetime. I hope to continue our good form together this weekend and get more of these moments.”
As a result of their strong showings, the duo ranks inside the top-ten in the GT-X standings. The team currently holds the fourth spot in the class’s championship standings.
A NEW PAIRING
Michael Lewis, who competed in the No. 98 McLaren 650S GT3 car in the past five rounds, will debut in the team’s No. 6 car at Utah. Lewis will share the seat with full-time driver Bryan Sellers for the remainder of the SprintX season in the Pro-Pro category, and he said he is looking forward to working more closely with the 13-year sports car veteran.
“Bryan is a guy who is totally Pro, and he’s working every weekend somewhere in a racecar,” Lewis said. “It’s great to be in his car because he is really fast. He’s a strong, smart driver. He has a lot of wisdom [to pass down], so to be on the same level (Pro category) as him is cool. It puts me in the realm with a guy who is known to always drive at that level. I still have a long way to go to get to his resume, but we’ll go for some good results. I think it’s possible if we just put our heads down and work hard.”
Although Lewis acknowledges that he can learn a lot from the new relationship, he also has the opportunity to showcase his skills at one of his favorite tracks. In last season’s trip, Lewis co-drove his No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 to a near-perfect weekend in SprintX. He not only helped put the car on the pole in the finale, but also led the charge in giving his Calvert Dynamics/ Curb-Agajanian team the sweep of both races.
In the Sprint GT class, Lewis also started on the pole for the finale and ultimately finished fourth to put a close to a spectacular weekend. Not only has Lewis had recent success at the track, but he also competed there in his rookie season (2009). All including, the California-native said he feels like this is a local stop for him on the schedule – one where he feels confident.
“I like the track a lot – maybe because I have had success there,” Lewis said. “It was good. We made it happen, but obviously SprintX has grown more since then. Then again, it was still a hard race. It was really intense and like most races that year, it always felt like it came down to the final lap.”
A RECORD PACE
Both Parente and Lewis hold track records for PWC racing at Utah Motorsports Campus – all set last season. Parente holds the Sprint GT track record (1:47.492 at 102.080 mph) for qualifying. Lewis holds both the track record for SprintX qualifying and for the fastest race lap. He recorded a 1:50.330 at 99.452 mph in qualifying and bested that time during the race by 0.590 seconds.
For more information about the Grand Prix of Utah Presented By Security National Mortgage, visit world-challenge.com.
QUOTING PROGRAM MANAGER DARREN LAW
“We have great momentum coming off our double win last race at Mid-Ohio. Utah is going to be an interesting race. We have been fast there in the past but luck hasn’t been on our side the last two seasons. The track layout suits our car well with the high speed, high grip corners but we will have to see how things play out for everyone being at the higher elevation. The Championship is still wide-open, and we will be pushing hard for good results. But more important than anything, we have to finish these races. Last year we were taken out of one of the races and it turned our points lead upside down. With this being a two-driver SprintX event, it will add another element that we have to factor in.”
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “Let’s go out there and see if we can get some good results. This [overall championship] will be very hard-fought until the end, so we’ll see what happens at Utah.”
Ben Barnicoat – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “I can’t wait to get back to PWC SprintX competition this weekend with K-PAX Racing at Utah. Utah is another new track for me, but the team and Alvaro have done a great job in making sure new tracks are no issue so far this year. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “I feel like we can go to Salt Lake and try again (from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course). For me, it seems like these weekends take forever, but when they’re over they don’t last long enough. I’m ready to get back and try again. I mean, redemption is a big thing. I can’t wait to get back in the car and get it moving back in the right direction.”
Michael Lewis – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “Utah is one of my favorite tracks. It’s very flowing and you have a straightaway where you can actually draft a little bit to get a run on somebody. That’s nice because some tracks you’re turning all the time so it’s hard to get a run. This track is a really good race track. I hope we’ll have a good run there.”
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.