Baptista/Soulet Record GT SprintX Overall Win Saturday at VIR; K-PAX Racing Bentley Pro-Am Duo Impressive over Pro-Pro Teams
Bacarella/Fuentes Take Am Class in Ferrari; Hardwick wins GT Cup
ALTON, Va. – The K-PAX Racing Bentley Pro-Am duo of Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet turned in a spectacular drive Saturday with the No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to win the GT SprintX 60-minute Round 3 race in VIRginia International Raceway as part of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of VIRginia presented by Audi Sport
Baptista, the 21-year-old sports car star, came from third starting position to take the overall lead from pole winner Daniel Morad in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 on lap eight and set a blistering pace before handing his Bentley over to Soulet, the veteran Bentley competitor from Belgium, who extended the advantage to 19.474 seconds at the checkered flag in the 32-lap contest.
Second went to the COTA double-winning team of Toni Vilander of Finland and Miguel Molina from Spain in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 with third going to GT overall point leader Scott Hargrove of Canada and veteran Wolf Henzler of Germany in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Baptista, a four-time winner in GTS in 2017, is the first Am class competitor to win a GT SprintX event overall since the class was introduced last year.
“This is one of my most favorite tracks here in the U.S.,” said Baptista. “At the start of the race, I just tried to stay out of trouble and stay clean. On the second lap, I tried to push because I knew we had a pretty good car, and Morad was sliding around a lot. So, I knew I could pass him. I tried once on the back straight, and we almost touched so I waited. Then two laps later, I tried again and gained the position. This was a great win for K-PAX Racing and Bentley.”
“When I first arrived here a month ago, I thought ‘this track is the deal,’” said Soulet about his VIR debut. “We should have more tracks like this in Europe. I think it’s a really nice track and that’s where you can make a difference. All the European tracks, they have so much runoff that you can’t really make any difference. I love to be here. The car was really good. We worked really hard when we were here with Rodrigo and K-PAX a month ago (in testing). To be honest, we didn’t touch the car at all from that setup. Our engineer was really sad because he didn’t have to work, and everything was already perfect on the car from the last test.”
Rounding out the top-five the GT SprintX was college student Alec Udell of The Woodlands, Tex., and Corey Lewis of Nazareth, Pa., in the No. 41 LOCI/HKG Racing/GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and Michael Christensen of Denmark and Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta, Ga., in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Following the Baptista/Soulet team in the Pro-Am category was the 17-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunfels, Tex., and last year’s GT SprintX winner at VIR, Ryan Dalziel of Scotland, in the No. 19 TruSpeed Motorsports Audi R8 LMS with third going to the Long Beach GTA winner Yuki Harata of Japan and Alessandro Bressan of Italy in the No. 55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Taking top honors in the GT SprintX Am class were Caesar Bacarella- of Miami, Fla. and 2016 GTA series champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico City, Mex., in the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3. In the GT Cup division, Ryan Hardwick of Atlanta, Ga., was the winner in the No. 27 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo.
“My teammmate Caeser did a great job handing me the car in first place, and I just had to close the deal,” said Fuentes, a five-time race winner already in 2018. “I just kept the car in the lead lap and just brought it home. Caesar is very good swerving through traffic. Thank God we came through with no damage to the car. That’s a lot better than what happened last year. I’ve never been able to win here, but with the help of Caesar, we’re back on track.
“We got pushed around a little bit too much, more than I expected, and we lost a few positions at the start,” said Bacarella. “I thought I cut a right front tire. We had a decent lead, so I just kept it, babied it for (Martin). It’s a great, awesome track, and I think this is actually the most fun I’ve had in a race car.”
Round 4 of the GT SprintX class will start Sunday at 11:30 a.m. EDT and will be shown live on www.world-challenge.com and broadcast on SiriusXM radio channel 383 (channel 983 on the SiriusXM App).
ALTON, Va. – GT SprintX Round 3 race results Saturday from the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Virginia presented by Audi Sport at VIRginia International Raceway. All results are unofficial pending technical inspection and stewards’ review.
1,1, Pro/Am,Baptista/Soulet, K-PAX Racing,,,Bentley Continental GT3,32,Running,1:01:01.388,
2,1, Pro/Pro, Vilander/Molina, R. Ferri Motorsport,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,32,Running,1:01:20.862,19.474
3,2, Pro/Pro,Hargrove/Henzler, Pfaff Motorsports,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),32,Running,1:01:25.976,24.588
4,3, Pro/Pro,Udell/Lewis, GMG Racing,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),32,Running,1:01:35.264,33.876
5,4, Pro/Pro,Christensen/Pumpelly, Alegra Motorsports,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),32,Running,1:01:35.565,34.177
6,2, Pro/Am,Chase/Dalziel, TruSpeed AutoSport,,,Audi R8 LMS,32,Running,1:01:41.466,40.078
7,3, Pro/Am,Harata/Bressan, Dream Racing Motorsport,,,Lamborghini Huracan GT3,32,Running,1:01:41.927,40.539
8,5, Pro/Pro,Morad/Schiller, CRP Racing,,,Mercedes-AMG GT3,32,Running,1:01:49.931,48.543
9,4, Pro/Am,Pappas/Bleekemolen, Black Swan Racing,,,Porsche 911 GT3 R (991),32,Running,1:01:54.068,52.680
10,5, Pro/Am,Lu/Segal, TR3 Racing,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,32,Running,1:02:07.285,1:05.897
11,1, Am,Bacarella/Fuentes, Squadra Corse Garage Italia,,,Ferrari 488 GT3,32,Running,1:02:19.112,1:17.724
12,6, Pro/Am, DeGeorge/Sbirrazzouli, DXDT Racing,,,Lamborghini Huracan GT3,31,Running,1:01:40.410,1 LAP
13,1, ,Ryan Hardwick, Dream Racing Motorsport,,,Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo,31,Running,1:02:37.047,1 LAP
14,6, Pro/Pro,Skeen/Heckert, Lone Star Racing,,,Mercedes-AMG GT3,29,Running,1:01:15.628,3 LAPS
15,2, Am,David Askew, DXDT Racing,,,Mercedes-AMG GT3,28,Running,1:01:27.009,4 LAPS
16,7, Pro/Am,Chaponick/Sandberg, TruSpeed AutoSport,,,Audi R8 LMS,8,Not Running,18:33.952,24 LAPS
17,7, Pro/Pro,Parente/Soucek, K-PAX Racing,,,Bentley Continental GT3,0,NC,0.000,