In a three-way battle for overall title entering SprintX finale
AUSTIN, Tex. – K-PAX Racing will look to finish strong in the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX finale from September 1-3 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Still in the overall championship hunt – after a remarkable push to a top-five finish last race – both McLaren 650S GT3 cars are prepared to carry that momentum to one of the final events of the season.
Nearing the completion of K-PAX Racing’s first season in SprintX competition, Program Manager Darren Law said that he is optimistic about the upcoming week at the iconic 3.427-mile, 20-turn circuit in the “Lone Star State.” The course features a series of challenging turns at varying elevations – including a 133-foot ascend to its signature first turn. Even so, it does not deter the team from the ultimate goal of earning valuable points in a tight points battle.
“As always when we get to this point in the season, depending on where we sit in the points, we either hold nothing back and go for the win or we have to play it a bit safe to make sure we come away with points,” Law said. “Because we are in the points fight, that will be our focus for this event.”
For a Greater Good
Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat have improved in the PWC SprintX points standings by slotting the No. 9 car into the top-five after four rounds of consistent finishes toward the front. The SprintX standings however are a part of a greater whole.
Though the team will be competing against 33 other teams at COTA, the team has two drivers in its sights. Parente, the defending series GT champion, is in a narrow points battle for an overall championship – three drivers separated by eight points. Parente trails Cadillac Racing’s Michael Cooper by three points and Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long by eight.
“The main cars we are concerned with in these last two race weekends are Long and Cooper,” Law said. “We will see how it ends up and that will dictate our strategy for the final event at Sonoma. The SprintX class has definitely mixed things up this season and has made it interesting. With three SprintX races scheduled this coming weekend and our tight points battle, it makes this event more critical than others.”
The Lone Star
K-PAX Racing has earned a spot on the podium in one-third of its appearances at COTA since 2013. The team’s most recent triumph on the full-course was during the 2015 PWC season opener, crossing the finish-line with more than a 30-second lead over the field. The victory also marked the first North American win for the McLaren 650S GT3.
Rather than just holding Rounds 9 & 10 at the world-class circuit, PWC has added another round of competition to the COTA weekend. The series will also use the class’s final stop as a make-up race for Round 4, which was to be held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in mid-May.
K-PAX Racing will work alongside the series in bringing awareness and relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Both PWC and the team will help fundraise via American Red Cross donations throughout the race week. To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org.
“We are saddened by the events from Hurricane Harvey,” Law said. “This really hits home for me as my sister and her family live in Houston. Luckily, she is doing fine and her home hasn’t flooded but it’s been tough on them this whole week. We wish the best to everyone, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “Hey, you never know what can happen. We’re going to do our best, but we can only see when we get there. We’ll go through the practice sessions, see where we are and see what will be our best.”
Ben Barnicoat – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “COTA is a new one again – like every track this season. But, I think every week I come in and prove that new tracks aren’t that much of an issue. The team and Alvaro do a great job in making sure that I’m fully ready by the time it matters – qualifying and the races. I’ve heard many great things about COTA, and I’ve seen it on the Formula 1 which I followed a lot in previous years. I’m very excited to go there, and I hope we have a good car to challenge for the top positions.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “COTA will obviously be an important weekend for us. We need to be strong there with three races. I’m not sure what kind of track it will be in terms of suiting our cars, but we’ll go in and do the best we can. We’ll be able to tell where we’re at once we get there, and see where we can end up. But it should be a good weekend overall with the three races.”
Michael Lewis – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “I like that track. Let’s just try to be as fast as we can in practice and qualifying with no mistakes. We’ll let the race come to us, which seems to be how it is unless we’re up front. But again, no mistakes and we’ll see what happens.”
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.