After a difficult weekend at Road America, the team was optimistic about the performance of the McLaren at Mid-Ohio.
With just five races remaining in the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge championship, the pressure is on at K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsport. The newly formed team has enjoyed great success this season with two McLaren 650s GT3s entries, earning three wins and an additional three podiums. Heading in to Rounds 14 and 15 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the team sat 4th in the Driver Championship standings and with the only two McLarens entered in the series, third in the Manufacturer Championship, just two points away from the top spot.
After a difficult weekend at Road America, the team was optimistic about the performance of the McLaren at Mid-Ohio, a track better suited to the high downforce grip level of the 650S GT3, with sweeping corners and elevation changes. Although lap times showed a competitive package and drivers that were pleased with the performance of the cars, the team struggled with top speed in comparison to some of the other manufactures down the long back straight.
We should be able to fight for the podium on this type of race track, and that was far from the case.
McLaren GT Factory driver Kevin Estre qualified 5th and had a clean Race One but was unable to overtake, and finished in 7th position. Robert Thorne started 11th and had gained a few positions in the opening laps, only to be hit from behind and was forced to pit to remove damaged body work. The unscheduled pit stop ended his race for points. Robert continued racing and remained out to set a fast lap time in an attempt to earn a better starting position for Race Two. Race Two followed in a similar fashion as the previous day's race. Although both entries were holding position, adversity struck again. While fighting for a top-10 position, Thorne was forced off track, pushing him to the back of the field with 20 minutes remaining. Ultimately Estre finished in the 6th position and Robert fought his way back to 20th.
Despite the attrition, the team still earned points and with five races still to go the championship is still within reach. Rounds 16 and 17 of the Pirelli World Challenge will take place August 21-23 at Miller Motorsports Park, where in 2014 Robert Thorne impressively held off veteran Ryan Dalziel to take his first series win.
Darren Law - Program Manager: "This past weekend's race was tough for us. Kevin came out with some points towards the championship and this is always good. We had great cars but not the best overall results. The frustrating part is that both drivers were really happy with the set up and handling of the McLaren 650S and the team is doing a great job. We can always turn fast lap times but during the races we are often forced to defend more than compete.
In this situation, you do the best you can and try to come away with as many points as possible. With so many manufacturers in the series, it is tough to keep all cars competitive not only from a lap time perspective but also race-ability. We are hoping for some changes but will have to wait and see. We are still in the hunt for the championship and with three weekends to go, we will fight hard all the way to the finish."
Robert Thorne - No. 6 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3: "I'd like to extend a big thanks to the team and everyone involved this weekend. Unfortunately, we didn't get the results we hoped for. Between contact yesterday and getting pushed off into the grass in Sunday's race, the #6 car wasn't able to finish in the top 10. I'm happy my teammate was able to stay with the pack in both races. Hopefully we were able to capture a couple manufacturer points. With a little help from the series and some clean paint on the cars, we'll get them back out at Miller Motorsports Park and hope to reclaim the top spots. We won there last year, and look forward to another strong performance."
Kevin Estre - No. 9 K-PAX Racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports McLaren 650S GT3: "The weekend has been difficult for us. We didn't have the pace to chase the podium so we just made the maximum effort out of it, getting 6th and 7th place points. I'm happy with the points we earned, but certainly not with the performance we had this weekend. We should be able to fight for the podium on this type of race track, and that was far from the case. I hoping for a big wake up call for the series for the next event, so that we can actually fight with the cars and drivers we belong with."
Flying Lizard Motorsports