Sellers earns fourth in series finale
SONOMA, Calif. – In the midst of battling for its second-consecutive Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Sprint GT title, K-PAX Racing endured one of its toughest races in the class finale at Sonoma Raceway (Calif.). Trailing the points leader by single-digits entering the ninth and final round, Alvaro Parente and the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 crew prepared tirelessly in the days prior to collect the team’s fifth championship since 2007.
In the opening lap of the 50-minute finale – after passing two cars from the start – Parente’s car was spun by contact from another competitor. After of the spin, the No. 9 car was then hit by another car that had nowhere to go, resulting in extensive damage to the right-rear. The No. 9 was retired from competition following a pit stop, where the crew assessed the damage and tried to make the repairs but ultimately concluded the car could no longer compete.
“Before we say anything about our run, we would like to congratulate Wright Motorsports and Patrick Long on the championship,” Program Manager Darren Law said. “They fought us hard all year and they are deserving winners. With Alvaro, this is a tough one for us. Obviously, we had a shot at the Sprint GT Championship and to be taken out on the first lap is very disappointing. He drove so well all year, had several wins and the team performed well. Everybody on this K-PAX program put in a phenomenal effort, and it’s unfortunate to see it end that way. We’ll regroup as we work to sort details for the upcoming season.”
Despite Parente’s ill-fated run in the finale, the team collected two top-five finishes in its homecoming at Sonoma. In the opener, Parente earned a second-place finish in Saturday’s race which kept him in contention for the championship. Bryan Sellers, driver of the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, added to Parente’s success by finishing fourth in the final round on Sunday.
“Today, Bryan had a really good race – a good start and he was solidly in fourth the whole way through,” Law said. “Towards the end he had some pressure then from [Ryan] Dalziel, but Bryan was pushing hard Dalziel couldn’t close the gap enough to make a move for position. We’re happy that the No. 6 car came home with a top-four result.”
Sellers, who debuted on the K-PAX Racing team this season, made an early push into fourth position and held that spot for the remainder of the race. He managed to keep at least a half-second buffer between him and fifth position, and fended-off CRP Racing’s Dalziel in the closing laps. The two barreled down the front-straightaway together, but Sellers beat Dalziel to the finish by three-tenths of a second. The finish marks Sellers’ fifth top-five performance of the season, including PWC SprintX.
“For me, the game changed once he caught me,” Sellers said. “I knew I couldn’t go faster than him. We went away from trying to gap him to trying to be smart by slowing him down where he was fast. We also took advantage of the areas where I had a gap on him. In a GT3 car, it means that always in the high-speed stuff you try to gap the car behind you because the aero-deficiency they receive, and you try to hold them off in the slow-speed areas. That’s what I was able to do for what felt like a really long time.”
Through nine rounds of Sprint GT competition, K-PAX Racing amassed four wins and 10 top-10 performances – six of those finishes on the podium.
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 – NC) – “We had a good start, passing a few cars – [Pierre] Kaffer and the yellow Ferrari. We were side-by-side into Turn 1 with the Ferrari, and into Turn 2 I left him a little bit of room on the inside. I left him room and he decided to try and pass me or keep side-by-side. He just touched me on the right-rear and spun me out. End of race.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 16th, Race 2 – 4th) – “It was a super unfortunate team day for the No. 9 car. I think the things we proud ourselves in is the program and having support in each other, and having good team days. I’m really sorry and sad that their day ended the way it did at the hands of someone else. For the No. 6 car, it was a decent day. We really didn’t have anything for the three cars in front of us, and we certainly didn’t have anything for the No. 2 car behind me. He caught me very quickly. But, I was able to maintain and keep him behind me – be good enough in the right places to keep him behind. Ultimately, it wasn’t the day we were hoping to end with but we had some good races this year, and we get to reflect on those.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 106 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.