Parente earns second in Grand Prix of Road America finale
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – K-PAX Racing celebrated a strong overall performance during the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Grand Prix of Road America, which included two trips to the podium. Álvaro Parente nearly swept a multi-round Sprint GT event for the third time in his PWC career, dominating the sixth round and finishing runner-up in the seventh.
“It was nice to come away from Road America with two podium finishes this weekend,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “The start to our year was a bit rough, but we are hitting full stride now and the Bentley Continental GT3 is on pace.”
“Both cars were strong all weekend, but unfortunately for Rodrigo [Baptista] today we had a mechanical issue that didn’t allow his pace to be where he should have been. So, it was nice to have Álvaro fighting at the front all weekend.”
The podium finish marks Parente’s fifth of the year, extending his hot-streak into June. In the last three events – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Ont.), Lime Rock Park (Conn.) and Road America (Wis.) – Parente has podiumed four times, including victories at Road America and during the Victoria Day SpeedFest in Canada. Parente said he owes the streak to the K-PAX Racing team that has been “working hard” behind the scenes.
“It was a great result for the team all-around this weekend,” Parente said. “[Today] felt like a great result because I wasn’t quick enough. I’m happy for the result, and I’m happy for the team. Things have just been going well, and we’ve been working hard. We are proving the strengths of the car. Let’s see what we can do in the next races.”
For the second time this season, the Porto, Portugal native started on the pole to lead a combined 42-car field into the green flag. The last time Parente held pole position (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), he led the entire 50-minute race to his first win of the 2018 PWC season. The finale at Road America proved to be more difficult, but the No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 carried enough speed around the 4.048-mile course to lock-in second place by more than a half-second margin from third.
“We could not challenge for first,” Parente said. “We were struggling a little more with understeer on the car, but overall it was positive. It was really a hard-fought second place finish. I was understeering a bit too much, and we didn’t quite have the pace. The Porsche was flying.”
Baptista, driver of the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3, said his first weekend slotted into the Sprint GT Pro category was a promising one. Throughout the weekend, Baptista managed to keep pace with the pro field. In qualifying, Baptista was nearly two-tenths of a second shy of being placed on the front row of the opener.
In the finale, Baptista found action once the green flag dropped. The No. 3 car battled the No. 2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for class position for the first two laps, before settling into the field. Baptista eventually secured the spot, ultimately finishing sixth.
“I think the weekend overall was good,” Baptista said. “The car was good and the team was great. We had a good qualifying session. We had the pace in the first race, but I was in the wrong spot. The first and second lap was a good fight between me and Morad. I was trying to stay behind [Toni] Vilander, but we didn’t have enough power to stay behind those guys. That finished the race for me.”
Parente posted the fastest lap times in two of the four practice sessions throughout the race week. Notably, he posted a 2:05.551 in Friday’s second practice session – being the only driver of the day to record a time under 2:06.000.
The next stop on the series schedule is the 58th Annual Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge July 13-15 at Portland International Raceway (Ore.). For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
“Looking ahead to Portland, we have not run here with PWC so it will be new to everyone,” Law said. “But the layout of the track – with its medium to high speed sections – should work well for the Bentley, and we look forward to carrying this momentum to that event.”
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 2nd) – “It was a great result for the team all-around this weekend. [Today] felt like a great result because I wasn’t quick enough. We could not challenge for first. We were struggling a little more with understeer on the car, but overall it was positive. It was really a hard-fought second place finish. I was understeering a bit too much, and we didn’t quite have the pace. The Porsche was flying. I’m happy for the result, and I’m happy for the team. Things have just been going well, and we’ve been working hard. We are proving the strengths of the car. Let’s see what we can do in the next races.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 7th, Race 2 – 6th) – “I think the weekend overall was good. The car was good and the team was great. We had a good qualifying session. We had the pace in the first race, but I was in the wrong spot. The first and second lap was a good fight between me and Morad. I was trying to stay behind [Toni] Vilander, but we didn’t have enough power to stay behind those guys. That finished the race for me.”
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Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 121 podiums, 50 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class K-PAX has fielded Porsche 911 GT3s during the 2007 – 2008 seasons, Volvo S60s during the 2009 – 2013 seasons, McLaren 12C GT3s in 2014 and McLaren 650S GT3s from 2015 – 2017.
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