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Parente “Privileged” to Balance K-PAX Drive with McLaren Role

Alvaro Parente looking ahead to splitting duty between McLaren factory and K-PAX Bentley roles…

Photo: SRO America

Alvaro Parente says he feels “privileged” to be continuing his role with Bentley squad K-PAX Racing in Blancpain GT World Challenge America after his re-signing as a McLaren factory driver.

The 2016 Blancpain GT America champion pursued three separate GT3 programs last year following the expiration of his McLaren factory contract at the end of 2017 when the CRS-run operation was known as McLaren GT.

However, Parente’s recent confirmation as one of three new McLaren Automotive works drivers means he is set to balance his commitments between the Woking-based manufacturer and K-PAX’s project with the second-gen Bentley Continental GT3. 

“I did a lot of managing last year so I’ve got some experience of that now,” Parente told Sportscar365.

“This is my fourth year with K-PAX so I get along with everyone there. They’re all happy for me to re-sign with McLaren, and McLaren knew I had this program to do this year so they’re very open to me doing it.

“I’m in a privileged situation and everyone is very understanding of everything. I am going to manage that as best as I can.”

Parente believes his triple-duty 2018 schedule will serve as the perfect base for his double-commitment season this year.

The Portuguese driver’s campaigns last season included racing for K-PAX (Bentley) in Blancpain GT America, Michael Shank Racing (Acura) in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and Strakka Racing (Mercedes-AMG) in the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

This was an expansion of Parente’s 2017 program which saw him race for Strakka when the British squad ran McLaren 650S GT3 cars, alongside his involvement in the U.S. with K-PAX, which was a McLaren team then.

“I was obviously discussing with a few people and I wanted to do this challenging year which was driving three different cars and trying to be competitive – the same as their own factory drivers – and that was accomplished,” he said.

“It felt pretty good. I achieved a lot of wins with different cars, it was a good year.

“I did IMSA for the first time which was a really good experience. I enjoyed the year a lot. It was super busy, and now back with McLaren.

“I am very happy to have re-signed with them. Really looking forward. Let’s see what happens and what the car can do.”

Parente has yet to return to the wheel of the McLaren 720S GT3 since being part of the lineup for the car’s global race debut in last year’s Gulf 12 Hours.

His race details with the factory and how these will fit into his existing seven-race Blancpain GT America program have not been confirmed.

“I’m really excited and I really enjoyed the race we did in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“It would have been mega if we had won on the debut, and it was looking like it [until a late suspension problem]. The environment was good [and] everyone is moving forward.

“There is a lot going on there and they’re trying to do things in a very short amount of time. Some other people have much more time, so we’re accomplishing great things.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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