As the Pirelli World Challenge resumes from its July summer hiatus and heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for next week’s doubleheader, the trio of K-PAX Racing drivers are keen to recapture their form from earlier this season at a track that should suit the McLaren 650S GT3s fairly well.
K-PAX maintains the technical work and support partnership from Flying Lizard Motorsports, one of sports car racing’s most well-known teams, led by program manager Darren Law.
Alvaro Parente, McLaren GT factory ace, has enjoyed a strong start to his season while young chargers Austin Cindric and Colin Thompson have rounded out up K-PAX’s new lineup this year. Parente’s starred while the younger pair has had somewhat roller coaster campaigns in their first year in World Challenge’s marquee GT class.
Parente, the 31-year-old Portuguese driver, has been on McLaren GT’s factory roster since 2011. In that time, Parente has starred in the Blancpain Endurance Series, FIA GT1 World Championship and International GT Open (2015 series champion), among other solid GT ranks.
In 13 races this year, Parente leads the points standings heading to Mid-Ohio. He has four wins (Long Beach, Barber 1 and both Lime Rock races) and has finished in the top-eight in all but one race. He leads Patrick Long, 1143 to 1095, in the standings.
A quick video on Parente is below via K-PAX Racing, as are a few photos.
Cindric, 17, is based in North Carolina and has already made a career out of versatility in the last few years. He heads to Mid-Ohio this weekend set to commemorate the two-year anniversary of when he made his series debut, then in a GTS class Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Cindric’s already run races in NASCAR (Camping World Truck Series), ARCA, open-wheel (USF2000), sports cars (Mercedes at the Bathurst 12 Hour, Ford in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge) GRC Lites and World Rallycross, before making his McLaren GT effort with the K-PAX team his primary focus in 2016.
In his 13 starts this year, Cindric has a best finish of fifth (St. Petersburg 1) and five top-10 finishes; he’s currently 13th in points. But he’s also busy juggling his studies with his racing commitments.
Here’s his video and photos.
Thompson, 22, out of Pennsylvania, stepped up to GT after dominating the 2015 GT Cup class in World Challenge, having won 13 of 18 races. It was his second straight title after winning the 2014 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA title.
Thompson’s year thus far has featured four top-10 results and a best finish of fourth (Circuit of The Americas 2), which places him 17th in points.
The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.
For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.
Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.
One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.
Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.
It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.
Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.
Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.
Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.
Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.
Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.
Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.
Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.
Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.
The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.