McLaren back on the streets of Long Beach

It's been a long time since a McLaren was on the streets of Long Beach.

McLaren Racing triumphs range from the Indy 500 to eight Formula One Constructor’s Championships, but their sports cars have been absent from North American racing for more than 30 years. That changed last month, when two McLaren 12C GT3s tackled the St. Petersburg Grand Prix for the K-PAX Racing team.

“The St. Pete weekend was a very positive experience for such a new car,” said K-PAX driver Alex Figge, who was among the early leaders and finished in the top-10. Figge, in the No. 9 McLaren, and teammate Robert Thorne, in the No. 6 McLaren, will lead the K-PAX team to Long Beach for Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge race.

Figge, 32, who nabbed five wins during the past three seasons for K-PAX Racing, will be piloting the McLaren 12C along the 1.97-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street course that he says is his favorite race. Here are his thoughts about the No. 9 McLaren and the opportunity to compete in the GT series at the 40th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“We’re still making positive gains with the car. Despite a lack of experience with this brand new car (for Figge and his crew), the team did an awesome job at St. Pete. We’d never run even close to a full race, but we hung in there for the full 50 minutes and it was a very positive experience.”

#9 K-PAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3: Alex Figge
#9 K-PAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3: Alex Figge

Photo by: Martin W. Spetz

“(Crew Chief) Buddy Fey and the guys from McLaren – Ian Morgan and James Carter – worked beautifully together and did a great job. We were fighting for a top-3 position for awhile, the car responded nicely to changes we were making and the advancements are tangible and satisfying. We’re heading in the right direction and I couldn’t be prouder of the K-PAX team and McLaren.”

“I’ve driven Long Beach quite a few times, including open wheel, Atlantic, three types of sports cars and Indy Cars. Additionally, I lived in LA for quite awhile, so this is almost like a homecoming.”

“I love Long Beach. The whole event is a great experience. It is absolutely my favorite race.”

“We’re hoping for a trouble-free weekend and to continue learning about the car. The team and the car are coming together very nicely.”

K-PAX Racing

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Alex Figge , Robert Thorne
Article type Preview
Tags alex figge, ian morgan, james carter, kpax, long beach, mclaren, mclaren 12c gt3, racing, st. pete