Mixed Results for K-PAX Racing at Utah Motorsports Campus - UtahAug. 14 2016
The battle for the Pirelli World Challenge GT Driver championship is down to the wire with three races remaining in the 2016 championship. McLaren GT Factory driver Alvaro Parente has the most wins this season, bringing K-PAX Racing to the top step five times so far, in his first year racing in the United States. After leading the points for X races, Parente lost the lead this weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus, but remains close in the fight. With strong finishes from teammates Colin Thompson and Austin Cindric, the Sonoma, California based team still holds a strong lead in the GT team points, as well as manufacturer points for McLaren GT.
After topping the charts in both practice sessions, McLaren GT Factory driver Alvaro Parente set a new track record and clinched pole position with his qualifying lap for race one. He gained seven points, extending the championship lead to 102 points.
He led the field to green, but the No. 05 Nissan took the lead before the race went back to full course caution. Both Colin Thompson and Austin Cindric showed strong starts, each gaining two spots to restart fifth and ninth. As the field went back to green, contact from the No. 8 Cadillac of Michael Cooper collected Parente and sent him off course in turn one, breaking his left rear suspension and ending his race. With the hopes of the GT Team Championship sitting on their shoulders, Cindric and Thompson took the charge to get the two remaining K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3s up front with 30 minutes left. Cindric restarted in fifth, with Thompson close behind in seventh. The two battled with a charging Patrick Long in the No. 58 Porsche, and eventually Long got by the pair. In the final ten minutes, Cindric and Thompson respectfully battled for position, with Thompson taking fifth with four minutes remaining. The duo finished fifth and sixth, collecting valuable points towards the team and manufacturer championships.
Although race two offered less excitement than the previous round, all three cars ran a clean race, returning to the garage intact after the checker flag. Due to the lack of laps in race one, points leader Parente started race two in 17th, with Thompson leading the charge in ninth and Cindric 10th. Thompson gained a spot on the start and Parente charged from 17th to 13th in the opening lap. Parente stayed close on the tail of Johnny O’Connell’s Cadillac and Cindric ran one position behind Parente for the remainder of the race. Without the contention from race one, Sunday’s event ran green from flag to flag, with only four cars unable to finish the race. Thompson picked up another strong finish in seventh position, and Parente won the Hard Charger Award, finishing 11th. Austin Cindric finished close behind in twelfth.
After the disappointing weekend, Parente unofficially moves to second position in the GT Driver point standings, 20 points behind Patrick Long, but 40 points ahead of Michael Cooper. Rounds 18 and 19 of the Pirelli World Challenge will be hosted September 16-18 at Sonoma Raceway, the home track for Flying Lizard Motorsports. The team is looking for a positive race next weekend in front of the home crowd.
Colin Thompson // No. 13 McLaren 650S GT3 // Started P9 // Finished P7
We had another great start, moving up a couple positions by turn five. After that, it was a pretty uneventful race. It was just lead/follow. I tried to pace out the cars in front to make them move at the end, but it just seemed like everyone’s tires degraded at a similar rate this race. We finished as well as we could.
Austin Cindric // No. 6 McLaren 650S GT3 // Started P10 // Finished P12
There isn’t much to say about race two, but in race one I was fighting hard for position. It was tough to make it through traffic, and I think we had the car for third or fourth. It was an awesome job by the team all weekend, and hopefully we can put up a strong effort for the home race at Sonoma.
Alvaro Parente //No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 // Started P17 // Finished P 11
It was a pretty uneventful race. I didn’t get passed, and I didn’t pass anyone. I couldn’t really do anything. It’s a very disappointing weekend after being the fastest car out there in practice and qualifying. It’s frustrating, but it’s racing. We’ll see what happens at the next ones.