K-PAX Racing Returns to Team Favorite Lime Rock Park
Will seek to win consecutive seasons
The team returns stateside to compete at one of America’s most historic road racing courses. Lime Rock Park, which first opened in 1957, is one of the longest continually operating road courses in the nation. K-PAX Racing will join more than 100 entrants in celebrating the venue’s 60th Anniversary during Memorial Day Weekend.
Not only has Lime Rock played host to some of sports car racing’s most memorable moments, but it was also a critical point for the team’s sweep of the 2016 GT Championship. Though at the time, Alvaro Parente could not have foreseen the ultimate impact of his first-ever appearance at the track.
“The championship is so long that I really was not thinking about it at the time,” Parente said. “I was just thinking race-by-race, trying to give it all I had – like we’re doing this year. I wasn’t thinking about whether I was tied, a few points ahead or a few points behind. The mentality I have is that you need to give it everything you got week-in and week-out and to try to get the most points possible.”
Unfamiliar with yet another track, Parente relied on the extra track time through testing and practice sessions – what he will say was a key factor in capturing the title. He said the first time he idled onto the seven-turn, 1.5-mile famed bullring, he could not help but to notice the environment – the hill-tops that overlooked the course and the trees hugging the contours of each corner. He also had his fingers crossed. He hoped his No. 9 K-PAX McLaren 650S GT3 car would be competitive; it was.
In qualifying, Parente initially set the fastest lap and held the provisional pole position until the closing minutes of the session. One of the competitors matched his time but by virtue of the PWC rule book, Parente was given the tie-breaker for his faster succeeding lap. Parente, who ran at the front of both the opener and the finale, won both races. Leaving Lime Rock, Parente was in sole possession of first place in the points.
“It was a track that suited our car quite well,” said Parente, who will look to duplicate his strong showing in 2017. “Lime Rock is a unique track that doesn’t have any straight lines. It has some long corners and a slow chicane in the middle. It was quite a good combination for our car and we were very strong there last year. That’s what motivates us for this year – to be able to do it again.”
Parente is not the only driver in the K-PAX stable to have success at Lime Rock Park. Four of the six drivers – excluding Jonny Kane and Ben Barnicoat, who are making their debuts – have finished well at Lime Rock during their careers. In July 2013, Mike Hedlund finished runner-up in the American Le Mans Series GTC class in his JDX Racing Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car. Michael Lewis last competed at Lime Rock in May 2014 in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, where he finished fourth. Bryan Sellers had a fourth place finish at Lime Rock with Paul Miller Racing in the 2016 GTD Weathertech SportsCar Championship.
“Lime Rock has been a really good track for us,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “The cars are quick there, were on pole and won the races last year which means we have a lot of good data that allows us to come into this event better prepared. It’s a tough track, especially now with the pit-stops factored in for the SprintX program. The pit lane is very narrow and it’s such a short lap time that you will literally lose a lap during a green flag stop so strategy becomes a more critical factor for this event. Full course cautions and track position will be something everyone needs to consider. It was a great turning-point last season for us, so we are really looking forward to it.”
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “Obviously under this SprintX format, anything can happen. You have a few more variables with the stops and all that. We’re very much looking forward to having a great weekend there and my fingers are crossed that we’ll score some good points here.”
Ben Barnicoat – No. 9 McLaren 650S – “It’s another new track for me. There’s a lot to learn like always, but I’m really looking forward to it. Alvaro had a lot of great success there last year, so hopefully we can repeat that together and take home some trophies.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “Lime Rock is always a fun battle. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s nice to see the crowd fill the hill. You do a lot of laps there, and you have a lot of opportunities to have a lot of good races there. So, I’m looking forward to getting back – especially when the team had such a strong race last year.”
Jonny Kane – No. 6 McLaren 650S – “Lime Rock is another new circuit for me. It will be another new challenge for me. I hear it’s another great circuit. The car went well there last year. Alvaro had a good couple of races there. I’m looking forward to another new place and another go with K-PAX.”
Mike Hedlund (Pro/Am Class) – No. 98 McLaren 650S – “I’m looking forward to going back. I haven’t been back there since 2013. It’s a short track, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s very exciting to drive and to watch. Hopefully the weather is in our favor, and it should be a good race.”
Michael Lewis (Pro/Am Class) – No. 98 McLaren 650S – “Lime Rock I feel is a really nice track, and it’s quite similar to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park but smaller. There are a lot of flowing corners with not a lot of hard brakes except for the chicane. It’s a momentum-based track, and it’s a track where you really need to get into a rhythm. For that, I really enjoy the track. With these GT3 cars, everyone is going to be close so you need to have a cool head and let the race come to you.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 101 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.
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