The K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3s will have three new drivers for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season.
The new trio of Alvaro Parente, Colin Thompson and Austin Cindric will take over from the previous two-driver lineup of Kevin Estre and Robert Thorne.
Additionally, the team has a slight rebranding with the Flying Lizard Motorsports engineering, crew and marketing staff continuing into 2016, but with the Flying Lizard team name not present after K-PAX.
“This is going to be our year,” said K-PAX Racing owner Jim Haughey. “The McLaren 650S GT3 is such a powerful car, and with this driver lineup, we’re fully confident we’ll be at the front.
“Alvaro has proven his speed in Europe, and Colin impressed McLaren GT enough to be taken in to the Driver Academy. Austin has the experience to build on for a very impressive year. This year, we have everything it will take to represent McLaren at the forefront of sports car racing in North America.”
McLaren has installed Parente as its designated factory driver with K-PAX and Flying Lizard, replacing Estre. Estre won four times in 2015 and at the end of the season, was named Porsche’s newest factory driver.
“Alvaro is a McLaren GT Factory Driver with a very impressive resume,” said program manager Darren Law. “In speaking with other members in the racing community, including Kevin Estre, we won’t be disappointed in his speed or racecraft and we are looking forward to having him join us this year.”
While Parente, the 31-year-old Portuguese driver, brings a wealth of McLaren experience, the team has added the two young American chargers to round out the lineup.
Thompson, 21, will step up into GT from GT Cup, where he dominated with 13 wins last season driving with Kelly-Moss Motorsports en route to the class championship.
Cindric, 17, completes the lineup as third driver and adds the McLaren to his already diverse portfolio of sports cars he’s competed in.
Cindric has participated in two World Challenge weekends before, both at Mid-Ohio each of the last two years.
He raced a Ford Mustang Boss 302 in GTS in 2014 and a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX in GTA last year, and finished seventh overall in the second of two races in the Lamborghini.
“The K-PAX Racing team proved to be a front runner throughout 2014 with the 650SGT3, and enter the new season looking to build on the success with a strong lineup,” said McLaren GT managing director Andrew Kirkaldy.
“Alvaro is one of the fastest and most consistent drivers on the grid, and he brings a wealth of experience racing with the 650S GT3 throughout last year. The championship visits some of the most exciting and iconic circuits across North America, and It will be a new challenge for him, but he is joining a world class outfit, and I am confident that the combination will be hard to beat.”
The team will hold a test with the three cars and drivers later this month at Circuit of the Americas, before the 2016 season kicks off at the circuit March 3-6.