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McLaren GT drivers, Barnicoat and Kane along with Lewis Join K-PAX Racing Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Program
In anticipation of the new Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX GT Championship Series at five races this season, K-PAX Racing has signed Ben Barnicoat, Jonny Kane and Michael Lewis to join the team as additional drivers in the extended sprint format events. Unlike the normal 50 minute races, the 60 minute races will feature mandatory driver and tire changes. Lewis will join Helund in the No. 98 McLaren 650S GT3, while Barnicoat and Kane’s placement in the No. 6 and 9 McLaren 650S GT3 cars has yet to be determined.
“We brought a strong lineup to defend our GT championship, now we are prepared to fight for the SprintX Championship as well,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “McLaren GT has provided us excellent support, and it strengthens our efforts to see that support flow into our SprintX program with Ben and Jonny. Michael has proven himself over the years and has always been a class act, and we are also proud to welcome him on board.”
Ben Barnicoat, 20, joined the McLaren GT Driver Academy in early 2017 after building an impressive resume in single seaters. The British racer began his career at age nine in go karts, and two years later he won his first championship. By age 17, Barnicoat advanced to formula cars, competing in the Protyre Formula Renault Autumn Cup, clinching the 2013 title. The following year, he won the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, and in 2015, he followed it up with the BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy. Last year, Barnicoat made his sports car racing debut, joining the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
“I am extremely excited to be joining K-PAX Racing for the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX races this season,” said Barnicoat. “After seeing the great success that the team had with Alvaro Parente in the series last year, I see this as a great opportunity for me to be joining the team, and I will be giving it everything I have to replicate that success with them this season in the SprintX races. It has always been an ambition of mine to be able to race in America, so I have to say a huge thank you to all at K-PAX and McLaren GT for this opportunity.”
Jonny Kane, 43, began racing go karts in Northern Ireland as a teenager, quickly stepping up to race Formula Ford in the years to follow. In 1995, Kane tested for the McLaren Formula 1 team, and won the B.R.D.C. McLaren Autosport Young Drivers Award. In 1999, he journeyed to the United States, racing for two years in Indy Lights with Team KOOL Green, winning two races and finishing fourth in the championship points. Kane moved to sports cars in 2001, where he competed in his first of 12 runs to date in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2010, Kane, Nick Leventis, and Danny Watts finished first in class with Strakka Racing. He has spent the last seven seasons with Strakka, which becomes a McLaren customer team in 2017, entering four examples of the 650S GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series. Kane has also been confirmed as a McLaren GT Factory Driver roster for the 2017 season.
“I’m really excited to be joining K-PAX Racing for the SprintX races this year in their McLaren 650S GT3,” said Kane. “I always enjoy racing in the United States. The tracks are great to drive and very challenging, and the American race fans are some of the best in the world. Hopefully we can carry on the momentum from the fantastic season they had in 2016. I can’t wait to get started.”
Michael Lewis, 26, started racing midgets in 2003 before moving to domestic and international kart racing in 2005. In 2009, Lewis placed as the top rookie in the Formula BMW Americas Championship, and became an official FBMW Junior driver for the 2010 season. His participation in sports cars began in 2013, after he was only one of four drivers to be invited to the Porsche Young Driver Academy, a two day Porsche Motorsport GT3 test at Barber Motorsports Park. He joined the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup the following season, placing as the top finishing rookie. Lewis proved to be strong competition in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class, again placing as the top rookie in 2015. In 2016, Lewis dominated on the Streets of St. Petersburg, winning both pole positions and both races on the downtown street circuit.
“It is exciting to join KPAX Racing, as they are a professional and a strong organization,” said Lewis. “Teaming up with Mike Hedlund is an honor, as he has much experience driving GT cars. I look forward to racing alongside Mike, and the other great drivers on this team, in the McLaren 650S. Thank you to everyone who has helped develop my career to this point. I sincerely appreciate all that you have done. I look forward to another fun year of racing in the Pirelli World Challenge with K-PAX Racing!”
Virginia International Raceway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park, Utah Motorsport Campus and Circuit of the Americas will host the five SprintX events throughout 2017. The headlining PWC GT championship begins this weekend at St. Petersburg, Florida, where K-PAX Racing will defend its title with full time drivers Alvaro Parente, Bryan Sellers, and Mike Helund and their trio of McLaren 650S GT3s. For more information, visit kpaxracing.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.
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