Tough Start for Parente, Bentley, K-PAX Racing Finally Turns to PWC GT Victory; CTMP 1st Win Last Sunday Now Leads to High Hopes this weekend at Lime Rock
Two Devastating Crashes had former GT Champ shaking his head before the win
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge racing campaign had a “big black cloud” sitting over the head of 2016 GT champion Alvaro Parente of Portugal.
Entering the 2018 road racing trail, Parente had scored ten GT victories in a spectacular debut in 2016 and 2017. The personable 34-year-old sports car star led his K-PAX Racing team to the driver, team and manufacturer championships as a PWC rookie in 2017.
Last year, Parente just missed the GT Sprint and Overall title but still scored four wins.
When K-PAX Racing switched from McLaren to Bentley this year, Parente was ready for the challenge. But he wasn’t ready for the devastation about to hit him and his race car.
At St. Petersburg, a mechanical issue on his No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 sent Parente and his machine into a tire barrier at some 100 miles per hour. Banged up but okay, Parente was able jump from the wreckage. Then, last month at VIR, Alvaro’s Bentley was knocked into a tire barrier by another car. In both occasions, the Bentley machines were basically totaled.
“To say that my PWC season started badly would be an understatement,” said Parente, who comes to Lime Rock Park this weekend (May 25-28) for the PWC Grand Prix presented by M. “We lost two cars early in the year and I wasn’t sure if we could get a car ready for CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) and Lime Rock weekends. But a quick find by the Bentley factory had a car shipped to us from Malaysia.”
The newest Bentley GT3 machine arrived from the Middle East at VIR to be prepared for the Victoria Day Speedfest.
“The K-PAX team did a magnificent job getting the new Bentley ready for action,” said Parente. “We were fast on Friday in the dry (track), but Saturday’s first GT race was in the rain. We just couldn’t get the power to the ground in the race. So, the team made a big decision.”
With Parente and young teammate Rodrigo Baptista running near the rear of the field with a rain-drenched track, the K-PAX squad played a new strategy – pulling in both drivers for slick tires and hope the track dries out. And that is exactly what happened late in the 50-minute race.
“I felt like the track was drying pretty quickly,” Parente said. “The crew called us into the pits. We got the slicks on the Bentley and made the call to concentrate on Sunday’s race.”
The Sunday GT starting grid is formulated from the fastest race laps in Saturday’s event.
Bingo! With the drying racing surface, Parente and Baptista set the fastest race laps.
On Sunday, the two Bentley drivers quickly jumped to the front and never looked back.
“I was going to grab that lead as soon as possible,” said Parente. “The car was excellent there in the dry, and I was hoping to pull Rodrigo along with me. The new Bentley ran flawlessly throughout the whole race Sunday.”
And Parente was back on top of the winner’s circle with his 11th career PWC GT win.
“The strategy on Saturday helped us win on Sunday,” he admitted. “And Rodrigo made it a 1-2 finish for K-PAX. After our tough start to the season, this finish was important to the whole team. This win goes to them for the hard work in preparing the new Bentley for this weekend.”
In addition to Parente’s GT win, Baptista, the 21-year-old Brazilian star, also won his GTA (Am) division Sunday at CTMP. He also won both of his GTS races last year at Lime Rock Park.
“I’m anxious to return to Lime Rock after last year’s event,” said Baptista. “That is a great track and I believe the Bentley can be a good car there. After the CTMP performance, the team has the car in great shape.”
Parente scored both GT wins at Lime Rock Park in 2016 for K-PAX Racing in his championship season.
“I really enjoy the Lime Rock track,” said Parente. “I would love to continue our recent success there this coming weekend.”
The Pirelli World Challenge action gets underway this Friday with practice and qualifying rounds at the beautiful 1.5-mile, seven-turn Lime Rock Park road circuit. PWC races – with all eight divisions – begin on Saturday at Lime Rock and conclude on Monday. There is no race on Sunday at Lime Rock Park due to existing track rules.
All of the PWC races from Lime Rock Park can be seen live on www.world-challenge.com and will be broadcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 383 (app channel 983).