Team to have homecoming at Sonoma Raceway
SONOMA, Calif. – For K-PAX Racing, the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season will finish where it started. About a half-mile away from Sonoma Raceway (Calif.) – on the same block – the team prepared its three McLaren 650S GT3 race cars for a rigorous 19-round schedule over a seven-month span. Now in the final two rounds of Sprint GT competition, the team will return home to challenge for its second-consecutive series championship.
“Coming off a championship last season – that’s the goal [again],” said Team Manager Thomas Blam earlier this season. “Anytime you win one, you don’t want to stop there. Our focus is back-to-back championships. [The hopes of winning the championship] gives motivation to the crew, the crew chiefs, the engineers and drivers that again this year – like so many years in the past for K-PAX Racing – we have a shot at the championship.”
McLaren Factory driver Alvaro Parente, who is also the series’ reigning champion, is in a similar scenario from last year’s finale. Parente, in his second season under the K-PAX Racing banner, is in a tight points battle with Wright Motorsports driver Patrick Long heading into Sonoma. Both drivers have notched four wins in their belts, and they are separated by five points in the Sprint GT championship standings (157-152).
Simultaneously, the two are in a greater battle for the overall title. With two 50-minute races remaining in the season, the two are within 28 points of each other (320-292). K-PAX Racing is currently eight points behind Wright Motorsports for the Sprint GT Team Championship, and McLaren is on the heels of both Cadillac and Porsche for the overall GT Manufacturers’ Championship. McLaren trails Cadillac by one point and Porsche by seven.
“It is hard to believe we are at our final event of the 2017 season,” Program Manager Darren Law said. “It feels like a repeat of last year where it will come down to a battle between Alvaro Parente and Patrick Long in the final races of the weekend for the Sprint GT Championship. We are ready for the fight, and this is a big weekend for us.”
Last season, K-PAX Racing collected three podium finishes at Sonoma Raceway. In the two penultimate rounds of the Sprint GT championship, the team earned two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish. Since introducing the McLaren 650S GT3 model in 2015, the team has earned at least one podium finish in each round at Sonoma – including one win in the 2015 event opener.
Under One Roof
Since May, K-PAX Racing and Family House San Francisco have teamed-up to raise awareness of pediatric illness. Through the 2017 season, K-PAX Racing has introduced children’s artwork on its three McLaren 650S GT3 cars. The children will have the opportunity to see their artwork – 16 total – on the team cars this event.
On Wednesday, September 13, Family House will welcome the team to its site in Mission Bay, which serves 80 families per night and runs at almost 100 percent occupancy. Family House serves as a home away from home and a pediatric guesthouse for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns.
K-PAX Racing will also host families from Family House on Saturday, September 16. As honored guests, families will be exposed to the total racing experience. Law said having the families at the track gives the team some extra motivation toward winning its fifth championship since 2007.
“This is our home track as we are based here, we have several guests from the charity we support – Family House,” Law said. “Last year we were not only able to qualify on pole, but we had podium finishes in both races. We know it is not going to be easy but it is a great track for the McLaren, and we are looking forward to closing out the season on the top-step.”
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “It’s going to be interesting. We’re going to better understand what’s going on after the first practice. Looking at the past, our car has done quite well there. In the morning qualifying, I was right up there last year. I hope we have a fighting chance to try to win the races there. That’s what we have to do – go out there and try to win the races at Sonoma.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “We have two races left that are obviously very important to the team and to the drivers. We will go, try to do the best we can in moving forward. Sonoma is an interesting place. It’s a very difficult place – not too dissimilar in terms of grip and tire degradation from Circuit of The Americas (COTA). You have to have a car that can qualify because it is hard to pass, but you also need to have a car that can go the duration of the race. I think balancing the two will be difficult, but it will be the challenge for everybody. I think we found some things at COTA to make the tires last a little longer, and we’ll try to apply it there. Hopefully, we have good race cars moving forward.”
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.