Baptista, Soulet double-down on two Pro-Am victories at VIRginia International Raceway
ALTON, Va. – The No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Rodrigo Baptista and Max Soulet completed the Grand Prix of Virginia Presented By Audi Sport sweep by winning the fourth round of Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Pro-Am. Since officially becoming teammates in early-February, the two have recorded at least a top-three performance in each of their starts together – including three wins in the first two SprintX events.
“Today was a really good race,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “We showed the strength of the car. Max had a great opening stint, bringing the car in at P2. But really, a lot of credit goes to our team. They were the quickest on the pit-stop, and they got us out ahead of P2. We put Rodrigo out front and he did a great job, handled the pressure well for his whole stint – I’m not sure what happened at the very end there – and we’re happy to have won the race in the Pro-Am class.”
In Saturday’s event-opener, the No. 3 Continental GT3 made series history by becoming the first Pro-Am car to win the overall in a SprintX race. From the dominant performance, K-PAX Racing was awarded the overall pole for the finale. Soulet led the field into the green flag from the outside lane and after a clean start, took a more conservative approach for the remainder of his stint.
Soulet was cautious, but he still carried similar speed to the opener. Though he lost the overall lead early in his stint, he quickly made a six-second cushion from the rest of the Pro-Am field. He continued to push forward, eventually within reach of reclaiming the top overall spot from the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Daniel Morad and Fabien Schiller. Soulet closed the gap to as little as three-tenths of a second, but he could not challenge for the lead before handing the car over to Baptista.
“Starting on the outside didn’t give me an advantage,” Soulet said. “The tire pressure was also very low, so I needed to wait until I got into a good pace and rhythm to advance. I could catch up to the Mercedes [Schiller], but I couldn’t pass him without taking any risks. We’ve had a very slow start to the year and bad luck this weekend, so I didn’t want to add more damage by taking any amount of risk.”
K-PAX Racing made up the deficit in the pits, reentering the track in the lead. Baptista was not challenged for the spot for the majority of his stint until the final 10 minutes, when the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mike Skeen and Scott Heckert made a late push through the field. In the feature battle of the race, Baptista fended-off Skeen – a seasoned veteran of the series – until the final two laps of the race.
“It was a little frustrating with two laps to go when I had the lead because Skeen was faster. I tried to block him in the first sector, but then he drove the car inside and there was nothing I could do,” said Baptista, who also veered off the track momentarily in his pursuit to retake the lead. “After that, I just missed the braking point, kept going straight and lost three positions. But, it’s good to know I could still finish the race winning Pro-Am.”
Baptista and Soulet tightened their grip on the series’ SprintX Pro-Am Championship, extending their lead to 12 points (98-86). Soulet said he is enjoying his time with K-PAX Racing in America because he has the opportunity to not only race new tracks but to also mentor a promising driver in Baptista.
“I’m really enjoying myself,” Soulet said. “I can be like a teacher to Rodrigo, which is quite nice. I enjoy that role. I’ve driven in Pro-Am before, so I know how it is. I know how to cheer him on and cheer him up. He’s doing a brilliant job so far, and we’re looking forward to our next race together.”
K-PAX Racing will return to PWC Sprint GT competition May 18-20 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Ont.). For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – NC, Race 2 – N/A) – “It was a shame for the team, for Bentley and for Andy. We didn’t even get to do one lap. Unfortunately, things happen like this. But, we are both strong and know these things can happen. The car was working well earlier in the week, and there are going to be some tracks that we’ll go to where it’ll be strong. We’ll just look forward.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – NC, Race 2 – N/A) – “It was a missed opportunity here to score some good results, but we’ve been racing for so long now that at some point you just need to think positively for the future. Álvaro and I have a big program in different championships, but we always want to do well in America. We’ve got all the ingredients which makes it even more frustrating, but nevertheless we’ll keep fighting hard.”
Rodrigo Baptista (Pro-Am) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “It’s great to have two wins in Pro-Am this weekend. The team did a great job on the pit-stop, and the car was perfect. We had a great race. Compared to the Mercedes and Ferrari, we were much faster in the straightaways. We lost a little in the corners but gained a lot in the straightaways.It was a little frustrating with two laps to go when I had the lead because Skeen was faster. I tried to block him in the first sector, but then he drove the car inside and there was nothing I could do. After that, I just missed the braking point, kept going straight and lost three positions. But, it’s could to know I could still finish the race winning Pro-Am.”
Max Soulet (Pro-Am) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “I don’t understand why the pole is on the outside here, but it didn’t give me an advantage. The tire pressure was also very low, so I needed to wait until I got into a good pace and rhythm to advance. I could catch up to the Mercedes [Schiller], but I couldn’t pass him without taking any risk. We’ve had a very slow start to the year and bad luck this weekend, so I didn’t want to add more damage by taking any amount of risk. The pit-stop was brilliant, and we got the lead exiting the pits.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 114 podiums, 46 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.
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