K-PAX Racing has entered the Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours, with Alvaro Parente, Bryan Sellers and Ben Barnicoat set to drive the team’s 2016 Pirelli World Challenge-winning No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 15.
“This is a great way to close out our 2017 season,” program manager Darren Law said. “Endurance racing is a different mindset than our current program of short sprint races in the Pirelli World Challenge.”
Last season, Parente joined factory drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar in the Motul Sepang 12 Hours at Sepang in K-PAX’s first-ever endurance event. Despite suspension issues, last year’s trio finished 10th in the McLaren 650S GT3. In 12 hours, the team completed 290 laps on the 3.444-mile course – traveling nearly 1,000 miles.
K-PAX Racing’s most recent win at Laguna Seca came in 2016, when Parente secured multiple series championships in the final lap of the last race of the season, including McLaren’s most recent manufacturers’ title.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how our car handles there and seeing what we can do,” said Parente, who finished second in this season’s Sprint GT championship. “We’ve got the best team for it, and a good car. It’s a similar race to [Sepang] because strategy plays a big part in it. The team’s going to do the best job they can and so will we. I enjoy Sprint and endurance races a lot – especially when you’re working well and the team’s working well, and especially when you have a shot at the race.”
“There’s a big age difference between Alvaro and I, so I kind of feel like he’s my big brother taking me under his wing,” said Barnicoat, a first-year McLaren factory driver who has raced with Parente in the SRO Blancpain GT Series this year. “He’s really helped me a lot this year. It’s a great friendship that definitely helps us in the car. It just works very well when we know each of our needs so we can get the most out of the race. It definitely helps in terms of getting the most out of the car. Fortunately, Alvaro and I have a very similar driving style which helps with setting up the car. We like it the same way and I think Bryan is similar as well.”
Law said adding Sellers to the lineup was a “natural choice” for the team. Sellers, a veteran in sports car racing, helped his Paul Miller Racing team to a fifth-place finish in the GTD class at Sebring.
“You want to be there for the last 45 minutes of the race,” Sellers said. “I think that’s one of the main things to keep in mind because in an endurance race, the race doesn’t start until after a certain amount of time whereas in a sprint race, it starts immediately and you want to move forward. In an endurance race, you have some time to do that.”