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K-PAX Racing Battles to Top-five, Top-10 Finish
The SprintX finale at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park called for rain
Fans flocked from the K-PAX Racing garages to the edges of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to watch the defending champions battle the high-speed, 2.459-mile circuit one last time in 2017. In Pirelli World Challenge’s 28th consecutive season at the popular Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Ont.), the team sought its second podium finish in the series’ SprintX class. However, Mother Nature thwarted the team’s plan as the series officials called for the race to be rescheduled.
“I’m glad the series cancelled the race,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “It was just too dangerous and there were too many rivers [on the track]. I would have guessed that we would have had multiple yellows, and we would have run the risk of not having any cars for next weekend.”
A culmination of spotty showers throughout the day and a band of steady rain sweeping the area one-tick shy of the scheduled start time first delayed the SprintX race by more than 30 minutes; teams could adjust to the impending wet conditions in that time as a safety precaution. The showers grew steadier, ultimately ending the team’s chances to improve from the event opener. Even when a series of unfortunate events and adverse weather tested the team throughout the weekend, it recorded one top-five performance in the Pro-Am category and one top-10 finish in the Pro-Pro category in the Victoria Day Speedfest opener.
In the event’s opening round, the team’s two McLaren 650S GT3 cars competing in the Pro category started inside the top-10 of a 36-car field. The No. 9 K-PAX Racing car of Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat were unable to finish the race because of contact that spun the car off the track in the final turn with less than 15 minutes remaining. However, the No. 6 K-PAX Racing duo of Bryan Sellers and Jonny Kane fended-off its challengers for the entire 60 minutes, eventually crossing the checkered flag in seventh position – where they started. In the Pro-Am class, the No. 98 of Mike Hedlund and Michael Lewis recorded a top-five performance among those in their division. Hedlund said the team had success in the Pro-Am category, improving one position from where the No. 98 car qualified in the field. Hedlund and Lewis started the race mid-pack in 18th position.
Though a red flag put an early-stop to the SprintX GT qualifying session with six minutes remaining, the team felt reassured by the cars’ performances. Both Pro drivers – Parente and Sellers – qualified inside of the top-10 for their respective cars, and felt they had more to give for the race weekend. Sellers said that he was excited for the race pace because that is when the McLaren 650S GT3 car would “shine.” Hedlund, who qualified for the No. 98 car, was fifth fastest among Pro-Am drivers.
“We’ve struggled here in the past, and we knew we had a bit of a challenge,” Law said. “Our cars were fairly quick yesterday. They were running in the top-five and we were happy with that. But with the incident that happened with the No. 9 car, it kind of put a damper on the weekend. On the positive side: all the cars are leaving here for Lime Rock Park next weekend. So, from a team perspective the cars are prepped and ready to go.”
K-PAX Racing not only looked forward to the race weekend, but also unveiling a new decal on the roofs of their cars. The team announced on Wednesday that they will be joining Family House of San Francisco to raise awareness of families with children suffering from pediatric illnesses for the remainder of the 2017 season. 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.
“We’re very pleased to be involved in raising awareness of Family House,” said Kane, who has two children of his own. “I’m a dad myself, and thankfully they are both healthy and well. Family House is a fantastic respite for families and children who have life-threatening illnesses. The fact that the families can stay together with the child must make it a lot easier, and it must take away a lot of the stress during a bad time. My hat goes off for the people who run the program, for those who give families support in a time of need.”
The team will travel to Lime Rock Park from May 26-27 for the series’ final scheduled SprintX event until August. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 30th) – “We tried hard and it didn’t go our way. But, we’ll live to fight for next weekend. We’ll try to have a solid weekend at Lime Rock Park. When it’s raining as hard as it was, it’s hard to say whether we were going to be strong or not. It depends on a lot of things, but there was no condition to have a race so we’ll move on to next week.”
Ben Barnicoat – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 30th) – “The race did not go as we planned after the contact. There’s nothing that we could have done. It was just another driver making a bad move which ended our week. I was really looking forward to the second race. I was all for racing in the rain, but [the series] made the right decision. It is what it is. We’ll just take this one on the chin and get the most out of Lime Rock Park next week.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 7th) – “I think coming into the weekend, we knew it was a difficult track for us. But, I think we were all able to pull together and get the best result that we could. We tried some stuff and made some improvements as a team and as a program. The No. 6 car came away from the weekend with decent points, but we still need to move forward.”
Jonny Kane – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 7th) – “I really enjoyed my first trip here. It was a fantastic circuit that was very fun to drive. It was very challenging. We had a reasonable finish yesterday finishing seventh. Unfortunately, we had the race cancelled today. You never want that, but the amount of rain we had…the officials made the right decision.”
Mike Hedlund (Pro/Am Class) – No. 98 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 5th) – “We had a good finish on Saturday. I had a pretty clean run, and I was able to give the car to Michael Lewis a couple positions higher than what we qualified. We had a clean race at that point, and we were really looking forward to racing in the rain. Our McLaren 650S GT3 cars perform well in the rain – as it has been in the past. The officials did make the right decision though. There was no possible way to race in those conditions, especially with Lime Rock Park coming up in the next four or five days. Hopefully we’ll do well there.”
Michael Lewis (Pro/Am Class) – No. 98 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 5th) – “This weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was pretty nice. We ended up having a clean first race. Obviously, the last race was cancelled but that’s racing. We’ll just move on to make that one up somewhere else. But Mike Hedlund and I did a nice pit-stop exchange, and he gained a few spots. We ended a spot or two from where we started, so on paper we improved. We were able to squeak through all the chaos, and the car was really fun to drive.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 98 podiums, 38 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.
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