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Parente Claims Opener at Mid-Ohio
Team earns two top-five finishes
Alvaro Parente crossed the finish-line first on Saturday to win his second consecutive event opener at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Parente, who is seeking his second-straight GT class championship in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) as well, has three wins in 2017 after a remarkable showing at the 2.258-mile course.
“It was the perfect race,” said Parente, who led the entire 50 minutes. “Everything turned-out in our favor today, and we worked hard for it. A big thank you to K-PAX Racing and McLaren GT. Let’s stay hungry so we can get more results like this in the future.”
His win at Mid-Ohio in last season’s event opener was his debut at the track. The victory marks Parente’s ninth win in nearly two seasons with K-PAX Racing. Teammate Bryan Sellers, who pilots the No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car, finished fourth.
Parente, driver of the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car, had optimal track position before the green flag dropped on Round 6 of PWC GT competition, starting on the pole. Just one day earlier, Parente raced not only the clock but also some of the series’ top-challengers for the pole. In a battle of narrow margins, Parente earned the top-spot on his final lap (1:19.748 / 101.93 mph). Parente was one of four drivers to break under the 1:20.000 mark, and he got the lead-position by a 0.093-second margin.
Though the pole was a great benefactor heading into the 50-minute race, Parente said getting a jump into the first two corners of Mid-Ohio’s 13-turn course was the key in maintaining the lead. The Porto-Portugal native’s quick reaction time when the green flag dropped allowed him to keep the spot, and a solid opening lap put him at a four-car length advantage over second position.
“We definitely got a good start,” Parente said. “I managed to defend my position well into those first corners and then the car was stable and very quick when I needed to push. It was easy to manage everything – between the tires, the track and my opponents behind me.”
Parente maintained a swift pace around the track, eventually growing the four-car separation into nearly a 10-car gap from second place in the first 12 minutes of the race. Parente led by more than five-seconds before a full-course caution regrouped the field in the closing minutes of the race.
Reminiscent of the opening moments of the race, Parente was quick on the restart. Not only did his strong start help him, but a lapped car in-between him and second position also lent enough space to extend his lead. Ultimately, Parente won by a 6.857-second margin and recorded the fastest lap of the day with a 1:20.802.
Sellers, who started sixth, was awarded the Optima Batteries “Best Start” of the race. When the green flag dropped, the Ohio-native veered to the outside and gained two positions. He maintained a steady pace thereafter, finishing in fourth with an eight-tenths of a second cushion behind him. Sellers said he was pleased with the outcome, but the result on paper does not show the sincere effort shown by the No. 6 crew. Following Friday’s qualifying session, the crew worked late into the night to prepare the car for the race.
“My guys were here late last night trying to work on the car to make sure we were good for today,” Sellers said. “Those are the moments when you want to deliver a better result for the team. That’s what I had in my mind today. Everyone went to the inside [on the start], and I was able to drive around the outside to pick up some positions. That set the tone of the race for me.”
The Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio presented by Honda Racing HPD finale is set for 12 p.m. ET. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Alvaro Parente – No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 1st) – “Our car works very well at this track. Today, we knew the tires wouldn’t come in the first couple of laps so the race would be quite tricky. It’s just the nature of this track for the tires to take a while to start working properly. So, I knew I had to work them in very hard on those first two or three laps and then I had to manage the race after that and try to get a good start, clean through the first three corners. It paid off for us today. We’re going to try and do the same for tomorrow, working for the same result. Let’s see what we can do then.”
Bryan Sellers – No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 4th) – “The race was really good. We had a good, strong car and we had good pace. The focus became getting a good lap time for tomorrow and maintaining pace. This was a huge confidence boost. I didn’t feel great after qualifying and in all honesty, felt like I let everyone down though they never made me feel that way. It was a good bounce-back, and it shows that our No. 6 car can get it done.”
About K-PAX Racing
Since joining the Pirelli World Challenge in 2007, K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 104 podiums, 42 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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24 Hours of Spa 2022