K-PAX Racing announced that it will compete in the upcoming Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours. The team entered its #9 McLaren 650S GT3 car, which won the Pirelli World Challenge in 2016.
“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.”
Portugal-native Alvaro Parente, who finished second in this season’s Sprint GT championship, will join American race car driver Bryan Sellers and British young-gun Ben Barnicoat for the event. The all-pro line-up all competed under the K-PAX Racing banner in 2017.
“Last season we finished out the year and travelled to Malaysia for the Motul Sepang 12 Hours, which was a good experience for us,” Law said. “Our team already has a lot of experience in endurance racing, but having already competed in a slightly different format than what we are used to in the U.S. – such as in the Blancpain GT Series – it gives us a lot of confidence. Having an experienced driver line-up is also critical.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how our car handles at Laguna Seca and see what we can do,” Parente said. “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.”
Throughout the 2017 racing season, Parente and Barnicoat have competed together in Europe in the Blancpain GT Series. Barnicoat said having a working relationship with Parente – and a friendship off the track – benefits the team in the upcoming 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,” Barnicoat said. “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 line-up was a “natural choice” for the team. Sellers, a long-time veteran in sports car racing, has competed in three endurance races this season alone ranging from six to 24 hours in length.
“There are a lot changes when you go to an endurance race,” Sellers said. “Your risk management first of all changes substantially. In a 50-minute race your risk is fairly high to try and get the reward. In the long races, it goes down significantly because you have more time to take advantage of mistakes made by other drivers.”
Sellers added that to have a successful trip at Laguna Seca, the team must be able to manage both the car and the clock. One of Sellers’ goals in endurance racing is being able to hand-off an unscathed car to his team-mates.
“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.”