K-PAX Racing with Straight 10s at Road America - ELKHART LAKE, Wis.Jun. 25 2017
Parente, Sellers earn four Top-10 performances in two-race event
K-PAX Racing veterans Alvaro Parente and Bryan Sellers were determined to deliver yet another outstanding weekend in Pirelli World Challenge Sprint GT competition. At Road America (Wis.) – a legendary four-mile course known to be one of the world's fastest permanent road racing tracks – the duo split four Top-10 performances during Rounds 4 & 5 of the Grand Prix of Road America. The team has had at least one of its McLaren 650S GT3 cars finish in the Top-10 in 10 of 11 races this season.
“The team did a great job,” Program Manager Darren Law said. “The cars were the best they could be. We knew coming into Road America that it was going to be tough for us. We have a few tracks that are not as favorable as others, but Alvaro and Bryan did a great job. Alvaro came out with solid points in both races.”
The team was motivated by its last Sprint GT performance in early-April at Long Beach, where Parente and Sellers both stood on the podium steps. Though this was not the case at Road America, the two improved from their initial starting positions and avoided contact in both races. In the finale specifically, Parente moved from eighth position to a sixth-place finish in his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car; Sellers held onto 10th.
Parente and Sellers managed to navigate through the debris of a caution-plagued finale. Parente claimed his two spots before the race’s first caution in the opening laps. Sellers, who drifted back to 12th in that time, eventually redeemed his 10th place spot by avoiding a major incident in front of his No. 6 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 car.
“You just have to be prepared in every situation,” Sellers said. “I think one of the main things is that people often compliment how quick a driver’s reaction time is. That may be true, but it’s also your ability to project what’s going on in front of you. It’s almost more important. That situation did not look good from where I was early. As sure as anything, there was a big crash. My reaction to it was good, but I also wasn’t surprised by it.”
The two were also tested in the event opener but showed their resiliency as the race progressed. In turn five of the opening lap, Parente was also forced to escape a collision ahead of him. As some drivers lost control, Parente maintained a steady wheel through the carnage to remain intact. Parente lost four spots in the sequence, but thereon picked drivers off one-by-one for the remainder of the 50 minutes. Parente ultimately climbed to sixth place – three spots better from where he started.
“I was on the outside through the corner and thought I’d be able to break deeper,” Parente said. “I was hoping to overtake a car, but I had nowhere to go but the grass. But from there, we just had a massive attack [to the front]. If you want to fight for a chance at the championship, you need to score every time and score high. Our ranked opponents were right up there for this race, and I had to give it all I had. I passed quite a few cars.”
As for Sellers, who started the opener in 12th position, he swiftly moved to inside the Top-10 and did not lose any ground from where he started. By the halfway point, Sellers and Parente were in 7th and 8th place respectively. Parente accelerated ahead, while Sellers engaged in a three-car battle for the remainder of the race. Sellers fought off the two-car charge to the closing laps, ultimately finishing ninth.
“I had a really good start and opened-up enough of a gap to not have to fight them so much at the end,” said Sellers, who was simultaneously trying to get a fast time in for the finale. “I used-up too much tire and by the time they got back up to me, it was an all-out battle. I had to do some over-the-top driving to keep them behind, but at the end of the day that’s our job. That’s what we have to do.”
K-PAX Racing does record Top-10 finishes regularly, but the majority of those have been podium performances. Notably, Parente has contributed 14 podiums to the team’s 103 total since joining the team last season. During the race week, the team celebrated not only reaching the 100-podium milestone but also eclipsing the mark in 2017. Sellers said for any team in its infancy, the goal is always stepping on the podium for the first time.
“But to build from there and get 100 podiums in such a short amount of time, that really speaks volumes to the operation K-PAX Racing has and what [team owner] Jim Haughey has put together over the years,” Sellers said. “Whether it’s drivers like Alvaro who has a lot of podiums, myself who has just come here and contributed a small amount or all the way back to the team’s original guys, it speaks volumes to what [Haughey] sees and what he does to win races.”
The team will take more than one month to regroup before heading to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 28-30 for Rounds 6 & 7 of Sprint GT competition. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Alvaro Parente - No. 9 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 6th, Race 2 – 6th) – “That’s what we had – two sixth place finishes. We knew this track was going to be tough, so coming out with two sixes is not bad. Let’s look forward to the next one.”
Bryan Sellers - No. 6 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – 9th, Race 2 – 10th) – “It was a difficult weekend as we expected coming in here. But I think what a good team does is they try to get the best result they can. There are cars that are in worse shape than how we left here. I had some issues in Race No. 1 and my guys were able to identify the problem. For Race No. 2, I felt a lot better. Moving forward, we’ll continue to try and take it to these guys every chance we get.”
Mike Hedlund (GTA Class) - No. 98 McLaren 650S (Race 1 – DNS, Race 2 – DNS) – Not available for comment.