Earns three top-three finishes in two rounds of SprintX racing
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – The Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX double-header held at Lime Rock Park (Conn.) began as an up-hill battle for K-PAX Racing’s two Bentley Continental GT3s, but it ended as a successful stop. In two races on Memorial Day, the team earned three podium finishes – including a Pro-Am victory in the finale.
“We faced a bit of adversity this weekend, but it was an unbelievable drive from both cars and all four drivers,” said K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law, who highlighted the team’s overall performance in the event finale. “Andy [Soucek] did a great job in the first stint for us and like always, Álvaro brought it home for podium position. It’s also nice to see Rodrigo [Baptista] and Max [Soulet] finish first in the Pro-Am class. We ended the weekend with a great run, and we’re looking forward to Road America (Wisc.).”
In the practice sessions leading into the double-header, the Continental GT3s showed a promising pace. In the final practice session of the week, Parente recorded the second-fastest time of the session with a 51.980, and Baptista was the quickest Pro-Am competitor with a 52.461.
In the fifth round of PWC SprintX, K-PAX Racing started from the back of the field. The two Continental GT3s started last in their respective classes but once the green flag dropped, the two cars made their surge to the front.
Within the first five minutes of the 60-minute race, Parente gained two class positions in the No. 9 Continental GT3 which put him fourth in Pro-Pro. Shortly after, Parente recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 52.033. Meanwhile, the No. 3 Continental GT3 of Baptista made ground on the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 in Pro-Am and was in contention for its fourth class victory of the season.
“I just tried to push the Ferrari because I was much faster than him, but at this track it’s almost impossible to pass,” Baptista said. “I tried to stay as close as possible to try to pass him on the pit-stop. We didn’t. After the full-course yellow at the end of the race, a lapped car closed the door for Max. But, we finished third, and it was a good run.”
Making the switch to Soucek, the No. 9 maintained position to finish fourth in the Pro-Pro class. Soucek said with the new tires, he was not able to close the gap between him and the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. However, Parente’s strong lap-time put the No. 9 sixth overall on the grid for the finale.
“The main thing is to say that we started last and made a comeback to fourth after an excellent stint by Álvaro in the opening stage of the first race,” Soucek said. “I just needed to maintain the car where it was, and I knew it was going to be very difficult to overtake the Porsche in front of me. I tried my best but just didn’t have enough pace to overtake him. But, I was able to drive the car back home in piece. I knew it was important for the next race to try and go for a podium finish.”
For the sixth round, both Continental GT3s started in the third row and for the second time in both Soucek and Soulet’s career in America the two started beside each other. For three corners of the first lap, the K-PAX Racing cars created a cushion from the field which gave the Soucek the ability to look forward.
“We had new tires in the first race, and I felt a lot better with the old tires in the second race,” Soucek said. “I could actually open-up a gap with the leaders, and I was covered with Max behind me. I just tried to give Álvaro the car in the best position possible. To do that, the strategy was to pit early, and I did a really fast lap to come in – especially onto the pits I think I really risked a lot by braking later so we could make-up a bit of time.”
While the No. 3 car eventually made to move to the Pro-Am lead, the No. 9 car was able to make a pass for second position with help from the strategy in place. Though the No. 9 car was not able to make a move for top-honors in the Pro-Pro class, the two Continental GT3s finishes on the podium including the Pro-Am victory. K-PAX Racing is now one win shy of the 50-win milestone.
“I’m just happy we came from last to fourth and fifth to second,” Parente said. “It’s just positive, and I’m glad to see Andy driving the car and driving it well as competitively as he did. Congratulations to the team. It was a painful weekend, but we made the best of it.”
K-PAX Racing will resume Sprint GT action June 22-24 with the sixth and seventh rounds at Road America. For more information about the Grand Prix of Road America, visit world-challenge.com.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “I think [Toni] Vilander was very smart. They (No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3) had the quickest car and only showed it the second race because they had a little pressure from behind by me. They had the pace to win this weekend, and that was it. I’m just happy we came from last to fourth and fifth to second. It’s just positive and I’m glad to see Andy driving the car and driving it well as competitively as he did. Congratulations to the team. It was a painful weekend, but we made the best of it.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “The main thing is to say that we started last and made a comeback to fourth after an excellent stint by Álvaro in the opening stage of the first race. I just needed to maintain the car where it was, and I knew it was going to be very difficult to overtake the Porsche in front of me. I tried my best but just didn’t have enough pace to overtake him. I was able to drive the car back home in piece. I knew it was important for the next race, to try and go for a podium finish.
In the opening stages of the second race we were really good. I had a really good start. Unfortunately, [Jeroen] Bleekemolen blocked me on the straight-line of the start. Max took advantage of that and got beside me, and we did two or three corners alongside each other. After that, my pace was really good. I felt really comfortable with the car this time, so maybe it was a set of tires that didn’t work in the first race. We had new tires in the first race and I felt a lot better with old tires in the second race. I could actually open up a gap with the leaders and I was covered with Max behind me. I just tried to give Álvaro the car in the best position possible. To do that, the strategy was to pit early, and I did a really fast lap to come in – especially onto the pits I think I really risked a lot by braking later so we could make-up a bit of time. I did all I could, the pit-stop went smooth, and Álvaro finished the job. He went out on the new tires and pushed. When the others came out on the cold tires, we had the tires already warmed up after the first two laps so we took advantage of that. Álvaro did a really good move on [Spencer] Pumpelly in the first turn, and I was hoping to get the Ferrari but the gap wasn’t enough. Vilander was just too fast but all in all, I am happy because we went from last to fourth and fifth to second. It was a difficult weekend, but we ended up with a top-five every race and with a podium – my first podium in America. I’m happy.”
Rodrigo Baptista (Pro-Am) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 1st) – “For the first race, we tried some different pressure and it didn’t work well. I just tried to push the Ferrari because I was much faster than him, and at this track it’s almost impossible to pass. I tried to stay as close as possible to try to pass him on the pit-stop. We didn’t. After the full-course yellow at the end of the race, a lapped car closed the door for Max. But, we finished third and it was a good run.
Our pace in the second race was as good as the Pro guys. It was an easy stint for me. I was alone on the track – maybe five seconds behind the cars in front, and I had a large gap between the guys behind me. I think Max did a great job on the start and during his stint. We had a great pit-stop and finished first in our class.
The Bentley was strong here. I think the problem with the first race was the pressure we tried, but in the second race it was really good.”
Max Soulet (Pro-Am) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 1st) – “I think we had a pretty good weekend. We started last and came back to third position in Pro-Am. After a good start in the second race, we went to first place in Pro-Am. Rodrigo did a brilliant job bringing it home. My highlight was to start next to Andy – again. It’s the second time in America where we’ve started next to each other, so it was quite funny. I mean we did about three corners next to each other. I knew I wasn’t going to hit him and he wasn’t going to hit me.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 119 podiums, 49 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.
About Bentley Motorsport
Bentley Motorsport is based at the Bentley Motors headquarters in Crewe. From there, the operation runs Bentley Team M-Sport, and oversees customer racing operations around the world.
The Continental GT3 is built by the Bentley motorsport team in conjunction with M-Sport. The Bentley Motorsport team is led by Bentley Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush supported by M-Sport’s Chief Engineer, Christian Loriaux.
Bentley Motors’ headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s four model lines, Continental, Bentayga, Flying Spur and Mulsanne. The combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to UK luxury car brands.
Optimum Polymer Technologies, the manufacturer of Opti-Coat, was founded in Memphis, Tenn., on July 1, 2001 by Dr. David Ghodoussi. Prior to this, Dr. Ghodoussi worked for over 12 years as an Organic Chemist overseeing research and development focused in polymers and automotive paint formulations.
For more than a decade, Opti-Coat has been setting the industry standard with their unique coating technologies developing and manufacturing proprietary resins utilizing Silicon Carbide (SiC) chemistry. Opti-Coat’s purpose is to provide clients with a product that is the most durable, innovative and protective coating available.
K-PAX Racing PR
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Email address: KPAXRacingPR@gmail.com