This weekend Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will host the final event of the Pirelli World Challenge, where the 2016 Driver, Team, and Manufacturer champions will be decided. K-PAX Racing and McLaren GT Factory driver Alvaro Parente will go head to head with Porsche Factory driver Pat Long for a one-race sprint to take top honors. Heading into the final event, Parente holds a nine point lead over Pat Long, K-PAX Racing sits 25 points ahead of Cadillac Racing, and McLaren leads Porsche by one point. Leading all three championships, the pressure is on for K-PAX Racing in the last battle of the season.
In his first season in Pirelli World Challenge, McLaren GT driver Alvaro Parente quickly showed he was a forced to be reckoned with. In the No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3, he earned his first podium in Round 3 of the championship, then his first of X wins in Round 5 on the streets of Long Beach. The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Utah Motorsport Campus events drastically altered the direction of the championship, when incidents beyond Parente’s control forced him off track while contending for podium finishes. The disappointing finishes resulted in his competitors gaining ground in the points gap, bringing the fight with Patrick Long to the final event.
McLaren GT Junior driver Colin Thompson faced attrition this season, coming off back to back championships in 2014 and 2015 to earn two top five finishes so far this season. Showing his strength in race starts, Thompson has been presented with several awards for executing the best race starting procedure by passing the most cars at the wave of the green flag. Thompson and the No. 13 McLaren 650S GT3 boasted strong performances at Circuit of the Americas and Miller Motorsports Park, where he finished fifth and Sonoma Raceway, where he passed seven cars on the start of race two.
While young, 18 year old Austin Cindric used the 2016 season to show he had no shortage of talent in the professional level of sports car racing. Cindric earned his first of three top five finishes for the year at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, then followed it up with his first pole position and podium at Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course. At the team’s home track of Sonoma Raceway, Cindric clinched both pole positions and battled head to head with three time GT Champion Johnny O’Connell to earn two more podiums.
The final showdown takes place Sunday, October 9 at 1:05PM Pacific, and can be viewed live at world-challengetv.com
This weekend is going to be a nail biter for all for us. The competition from all of the teams has been tough all year, and even though we are coming into this final race with the points lead in the driver, team and manufacturer categories, the margins are so small just a few positions on track will change everything. The drivers and team have done such a phenomenal job all season and to be fighting for these championships says a lot about our program. No matter what the outcome, I am proud of how we have performed and hope to be on the top step Sunday afternoon.
It will be a very competitive weekend. We will tackle Laguna Seca as any other race. This is the only circuit that I already knew before, so that’s a plus, but I don’t think it will make any difference. We have to see if we are competitive on this circuit relative to our main opponent, and start to work hard as soon as we hit the track, because our adversaries are very strong and they will give us a hard time. As in any other race, I’ll give my best to try to get the best results possible and I have full confidence that K-PAX Racing and McLaren GT will give me the best car within their reach. In the end, we will do the math and hopefully we will come up in first place.
Going into the last race of the year, I am looking forward to great results with K-PAX Racing. It’s been an honor to represent such a brand as McLaren, and through all of the bad luck the No. 13 car has seen this year, it would be awesome to finish the year with some hardware from the podium! I am confident going into Laguna that we can achieve this and roll the momentum into a great 2017.
I always enjoy coming back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s somewhere where I’ve enjoyed success in the past and just one of those tracks that is a blast to drive every lap. It’s a big weekend for the entire team from a points perspective, but for the No. 6 car, it’ll all be about carrying over the momentum from our great weekend in Sonoma. Everyone has worked extremely hard this season to get where we are, and I’m aiming to hopefully finish out the year on the top step at one of my favorite tracks.