With fleets of GT3/GTD Audis, Porsches,
Ferraris and BMWs running in Pirelli World
Challenge and the TUDOR United
SportsCar Championship, McLaren’s two
cars in PWC seems small-scale by
comparison. For K-PAX Racing/Flying
Lizard Motorsports, being sole custodians
of the 650S GT3 in U.S. racing has its
positives, but also its challenges.
On the negative side, K-PAX has nothing
to mesure itself against, or be compared
favorably to. While direct comparisons can be
drawn between teams running R8s, for
example, there’s no clear frame of reference
for what K-PAX is doing. Is success or failure
down to the cars, the team, both or neither?
Sure, McLarens racing in, say, Europe’s
Blancpain GT Series can be a limited frame
of reference, but a 50-minute PWC sprint
on a bump’n’squirt U.S. street course
pretty much defies direct comparison...
On the other hand, UK-based McLaren GT
is all about selling and supporting customer
cars, so it wants other teams to run its cars
in the various U.S. series where it is – or soon
will be – eligible. So success by K-PAX is good
for McLaren. As a result, there’s engineering
support, plus a factory driver in Kevin Estre
to help ensure results.
“There’s great engineering support in
these kinds of championships,” Estre says.
“There’s an engineer who comes over from
the UK to support the electronics for Pirelli
World Challenge – for example, the launch
control – and keep the cars updated with
new stuff they’ve developed in Europe.”
The support McLaren GT gives its
customers was a key factor in K-PAX
choosing to race the 12C last year and
continue with the 650S for 2015.
“The engineering support and commitment
they have to our program – they want us to
do well,” says K-PAX principal Jim Haughey.
“They haven’t had any teams racing the
McLaren in the U.S. before, so this is an
opportunity they wanted to fully support.”
That support becomes even more
critical as the TUDOR Championship
adopts GT3 regulations for the GTD class in
2016. McLaren may not have the quantity
of some other manufacturers, but they
certainly have the quality...and the desire.
K-PAX is blazing the trail for McLarens racing in the U.S., but it’s not having to do it in complete isolation.
McLaren GT developed its GT3-spec 650S
through 2014, before releasing cars to
customer teams prior to the ’ 15 season.
Customer team Von Ryan Racing fields
a pair of 650S GT3s in the Blancpain GT
Series, winning round two at Silverstone.
Bruno Senna (LEFT)
is the latest addition
to McLaren’s driver
roster. The five
factory aces are
loaned to customer
teams, with K-PAX
getting Kevin Estre
for the 2015 PWC.
PireLLi WOrLD CHALLeNGe