After testing the waters of Intercontinental GT Challenge last year in Sepang, K-PAX Racing program manager Darren Law says racing just hours away from their home base at the inaugural California 8 Hours is a no-brainer for the team.
Unlike the rest of the Pirelli World Challenge regulars that are moonlighting in IGTC this weekend on behalf of their respective manufacturers, K-PAX has experience in the series dating to a trip to Malaysia last season.
Law said the experience was beneficial, and noted that the globe-trotting championship gave the team the chance to dabble in endurance racing and represent McLaren on an international stage.
“There’s several aspects to the whole thing, but really Jim Haughey, the owner of the K-PAX team, he’s been doing the Pirelli World Challenge for many, many years,” Law told Sportscar365.
“Endurance racing is something that intrigues him, and that’s what led to Sepang last year. We decided we wanted to get some experience with it and go try it.
“Of course McLaren is super supportive, and last year it was important for them because they were in the fight for the championship. It was a benefit for McLaren to do it, there was some support on their side, and we wanted to do it. Being the only U.S. team to go and do it was cool.
“It was a good experience for us and it was good to see how the Blancpain rules work.
“We got good experience with how they handle their pit stops and tire changes, which is different than what we’ve done in the past.
“When [the California 8 Hours] showed up this year in our own back yard, it’s obviously very expensive to go to other countries, and this makes sense for us. It’s a great way to top off our season.”
Law didn’t rule out potentially entering other overseas rounds of the championship in the future, but said that while there is a North American round so close to the team’s home base the expense of additional IGTC entries posed a challenge.
“It is expensive to do,” he said. “It depends. I don’t think we would be interested in traveling worldwide in all of these events.
“Our main focus is on the United States and winning Pirelli World Challenge championships, but especially when it’s here and it’s close by, it makes sense to run some endurance races.”
Law said it was difficult to set expectations for this weekend given the number of non-PWC teams entered this weekend and the difference in regulations, but indicated he expects the competition for overall glory to be fierce.
“This is different because we have several teams that we have not raced against,” he said. “We expect them to be very, very fast and they’ve proven that in practice.
“WRT, which is a big team in Europe, we know they’re going to be strong and Land just won Petit.
“When we look at all the other teams out here, they have great driver lineups, factory guys, well established teams, and they know the system. There’s probably five or six cars that are in the hunt here.
“Looking at our program, we have great drivers and we’re very confident. We know the track, it’s one of our home tracks, so I feel like we have a great shot at it.”