Will lead the field into the green flag for Mid-Ohio opener
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Alvaro Parente, driver of the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car, will start on the pole for Friday’s Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT class opener at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Parente idled into the team garage to cheers from his crew after earning the top-spot by a scant 0.093-second margin.
“You know what, that was a phenomenal job by Alvaro,” said Program Manager Darren Law, still stunned by the close finish. “He was really good today. The times were just switching from [Michael] Cooper and [Johnny] O’Connell of Cadillac Racing to Alvaro and K-PAX Racing. We’re just really proud.”
The qualifying session was hard-fought for Parente and the No. 9 crew, as the pole did not come without any challenges. Parente earned the top-spot as early as five-minutes into the session with a 1:21.500, but the time was bested shortly after. Parente reclaimed the pole with a 1:20.016 with 10-minutes remaining – a mark he thought would stand.
“It was definitely a very tough qualifying session,” Parente said. “I thought when I did the 1:20.000 that it would have been pole, that we could have held off for the seven minutes. But, it wasn’t the case. We came in, lowered [tire] pressures, did a little bit of a different strategy, went back out and the car was working well on the track.”
With less than five minutes remaining, Parente looked to capture the top-spot for the third time. Despite being the first to record a time below 1:20.000 with a 1:19.748, that lap did not produce the winning time. In the closing seconds, Parente sealed the top-spot with a 1:19.748 – which was 0.351 seconds shy of the track qualifying record set by then-teammate Austin Cindric last season.
Parente’s pole will mark K-PAX Racing’s third consecutive race of starting in the front row at Mid-Ohio. The 2016 GT class champion started on the front row of last season’s opener – alongside Cindric, who earned the pole – and eventually overtook him to win his fifth race of the season.
“Qualifying is one thing, then the race is another,” Parente said. “I’m in the best place to start the race, and I’m definitely excited for that. But, it’s still important to get a great start and get a good clean run through those first two corners. Let’s see how everything works then, but I think we have a good car – especially looking at last year. So, you’re just looking for a really good start and to be clean through the first two corners, and try to manage the race. That’s the ideal race for me, but we’ll see.”
Teammate Bryan Sellers, who pilots the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car, qualified sixth for the opener. Sellers said he is confident that he and his No. 6 crew will have a good race.
“No doubt about that,” Sellers said. “We’ll go into tomorrow and see what we have.”
The first race for K-PAX Racing is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 103 podiums, 41 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.