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K-PAX Racing Opens Pirelli World Challenge 2017 Season with Strong Qualifying Effort
Defending Champion Parente qualifies third, Sellers 11th in GT class, while Hedlund starts third in GTA.
The reigning champions of the Pirelli World Challenge Team, Driver and Manufacturer titles returned to the streets of St. Petersburg this weekend to qualify for Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2017 Championship. Under clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s, the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 of 2016 Champion Alvaro Parente qualified third overall. Newcomer Bryan Sellers qualified 11th in his No. 6 car, while Mike Hedlund and the No. 98 McLaren 650S GT3 starts third in the GTA class.
When Parente first joined the series in 2016, many of the events on the calendar marked the racer’s first time on each track, with the exception of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Now familiar with the layout, Parente focused on familiarizing himself with the changes the track officials made to the race track overnight. Parente qualified with a fast lap time of 1:13.990, equaling the second-fastest time of the No. 4 of Pierre Kaffer.
“It was a bit of a battle in qualifying,” said Parente. “In what was going to be my fastest lap time, another car got in my way. It was not on purpose, but I could not save the lap time. The position is not bad, but I used the tires a little more than I would have liked to. We will try our best and see what tomorrow brings.”
New to K-PAX Racing as well as the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, sports car veteran Bryan Sellers used the limited track time to learn the chemistry between his McLaren 650S GT3 and the 14 turn, 1.8 mile street circuit. The American racer showed clean and consistent laps in qualifying, setting a lap time of 1:14.773.
“It was not a great qualifying session for me,” said Sellers. “It was pretty difficult to get a good lap time out of it. I was trying to find a lap and get one in place, but those conditions were also the same for everyone there. There is no excuse, and I just feel like I did not do a great job. Now we look at the data and try to reload for tomorrow.”
Representing K-PAX Racing in the GTA class in his No. 98 McLaren 650S GT3, Mike Hedlund paced himself carefully, focusing more on learning to consistently improve his execution than looking for outright speed. With more improvement to go, Hedlund felt confident about his third-place starting position with a 1:15.548 lap time.
“Our K-PAX Racing McLaren was pretty quick today,” said Hedlund. “I need a little more seat time, but we had a good qualifying run. We will be able to make the car quicker for the race as well. We have a good starting position, and I think we will be able to get some points tomorrow.”
The first round of the double header weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Saturday, March 11 at 9:35AMEastern. For live stream and timing and scoring information, visit world-challenge.com.
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 93 podiums, 37 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.