This weekend at Sepang International Circuit, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge champions K-PAX Racing participated in the Motul Sepang 12 Hours, earning a top ten finish after a hard fought race. Equipped with a McLaren GT all-factory lineup of Alvaro Parente, Shane van Gisbergen, and Côme Ledogar, the No. 9 McLaren 650S topped two of the three pre-race practice sessions and showed continued speed in the Intercontinental GT Challenge finale event.
The No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3 arrived from the United States and started the first session with a competitive setup, topping the charts of the GT3 in the first and third free practice sessions. Pirelli World Challenge GT Driver Champion Alvaro Parente qualified the car in second during the top-15 shootout. From the green flag to the end of his stint, Parente defended second place position, fighting hard against the factory Porsche of Richard Lietz, and the Ferrari of Alessandro Pierguidi. Côme Ledogar took over during caution and began his first stint of the race in third position. A track limit penalty resulted in a drive through, with the determined McLaren rejoining the race in seventh position. Shane van Gisbergen inherited the car for the third stint of the 12 hour race, running in eighth as the fastest car in class at the time. As he reclaimed seventh, the No. 9 McLaren 650S suffered suspension issues, forcing the car to the garage to undergo repairs for twelve laps.
After speedy repairs, the American entry rejoined the field in 21st position, with van Gisbergen climbing his way back up the charts with determination. The McLaren powered to 17th at the bottom of the fourth hour as heavy rain descended on the track and Parente took over for his second stint. As the drivers continued to cycle through the car, the No. 9 McLaren charged forward, fighting for a top 10 position with two hours remaining. After a hard fought effort from the crew, drivers, car, and engineers, the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3 came back from 21st to finish 10th at its first Asian endurance event.
I’m sad the race ended the way it did. It was great to work with the team again, and everyone was doing a great job. We were looking like we were going to have a good race. We didn’t seem to have the ultimate pace, but even so with the right calls, and the job we were doing, if it weren’t for the suspension failure we had, it was looking like a good result. We had a great qualifying session and the whole team did such great work on the set up of the car.
Shane van Gisbergen
It was a tough day. We were still in the fight for the race when we had a part failure in the car. We lost a lot of laps fixing it, which put us out of a good finishing position. Once we got back out there, the pace was good, and we pushed hard to the end. Thank you to the team, and to McLaren GT. It was a nice weekend.
The race was not the best, as we had to repair the front suspension during the third hour when we were fighting for the top four. Apart from that, it was a great weekend, as we did a good job to improve the car during free practices, and then Alvaro did a great job putting the car on the first row in qualifying. After our technical problem, we didn’t give up to reach a top ten and being strong on strategy. K-PAX Racing didn’t do any mistakes! From my side, it was hot and at one point, I had to do a double stint playing between rain and slick tires, which helped us come back into the rhythm.
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.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports