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Van Gisbergen defends IGTC Drivers’ title chances

Van Gisbergen defends IGTC Drivers’ title chances

K-PAX Racing has confirmed its driver lineup for the Motul Sepang 12 Hours race. McLaren GT factory drivers Alvaro Parente, Shane van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar will be at the wheel of the team’s McLaren 650S GT3 car in the third and final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Parente won the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT title with K-Pax Racing, while both van Gisbergen and Ledogar, who won this year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with Garage 59, will make their team debuts.

Parente joined McLaren GT as a Factory Driver in 2011, and has since proven to be a strong fit with the manufacturer in the years since. Parente gave a multi-race winning run in the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge, earning six wins to clinch the championship with K-PAX Racing.

After an impressive 2014 season in V8 Supercars, New Zealand racer Shane van Gisbergen joined the McLaren GT ranks in 2015, earning two wins in his four races with Von Ryan Racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series. For the 2016 season, he joined Garage 59, in which the team clinched the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. At the Bathurst 12 Hours, van Gisbergen set a track record at Mount Panorama circuit during qualifying to take pole position. He and co-drivers Alvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb went on to take victory with the 650S GT3 for Tekno Autosports at the event.

Frenchman Côme Ledogar joined the McLaren GT ranks in 2016, racing alongside van Gisbergen and Rob Bell in the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series.

With Van Gisbergen joining the Motul Sepang 12 Hours race, the fight for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Drivers’ title is wide open. He sits currently second in the Drivers’ Championship, six points behind Audi’s Laurens Vanthoor.

Darren Law, Program Manager K-Pax Racing : “This will be a great way to close out an already phenomenal year for us. Alvaro and the team worked so well together this year in the Pirelli World Challenge Series and to have McLaren GT factory teammates Shane van Gisbergen and Côme Ledogar joining us will give us a very strong driver line up. Everyone at McLaren GT has been a huge help in supporting us and we are looking forward to not only racing some of the best GT3 teams in the world but also being the only American team competing in this event.”

Alvaro Parente : “It will be great to be back racing with K-PAX, and in a completely different type of race, as it is 12 hours long with pit stops and a demanding strategy. I'm looking forward to the race and excited to see how everyone deals and works throughout the weekend. We are more than motivated to try and do well on this demanding track with new asphalt. I'm also excited about what differences there are in terms of grip level and how demanding this new asphalt will be on the tyres. It's a very challenging and technical race track and super hot and humid, which will be tough both physically and mentally.

Shane Van Gisbergen : "I am really looking forward to the Sepang 12 Hours. It's been an awesome year for McLaren in GT racing with race and championship wins across the world, and to be a Kiwi and a part of it is very special. The intercontinental GT Challenge trophy is up for grabs, hopefully we can have a good result and finish this year on a high.”

Come Ledogar : "The Sepang 12 Hours is establishing itself as a key event on the GT calendar, which attracts a really competitive grid, and I cannot wait to be part of it. It will be great to race alongside Alvaro and Shane in the 650S GT3, and I’m excited to join K-PAX Racing after they have had such a strong season to win the Pirelli World Championship."

Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren GT Managing Director : “It has been the strongest year to-date for McLaren in GT racing, with the 650S GT3 securing nine championships across the world, including a clean sweep by K-PAX Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. It is great to see the team take on the challenge of the Motul Sepang 12 Hours, which is the first endurance race for the team, and it is also one of the most demanding. The line-up they have put together, with Come, Alvaro and Shane, is extremely experienced in global endurance racing and shows the level of commitment and determination the team has towards this race. The race also forms the final round of the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge. Following the victory at the Bathurst 12 Hours and points scored at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Shane is still in the chase for yet more silverware to crown an incredibly strong season.