Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet will travel stateside for the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX opener
AUSTIN, Tex. – Bentley factory drivers Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet will join K-PAX Racing in the opening rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship March 23-25 at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
“We’re really looking forward to COTA,” said K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law. “It should be a track that really suits the Bentley. We’re also very excited to have Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek joining us. They are both factory drivers that have had a lot of time in these cars, which is always beneficial for us to get their feedback and input.”
In the weeks leading into COTA, Soucek and Soulet have been learning the track layout from simulation testing. Admittedly, Soucek said a simulator is vastly different than experiencing all the track’s quirks with a proper race car. Soucek is preparing for his American sports car racing debut at COTA, and Soulet will be returning stateside to race for the first time since 2012.
Soucek will join three-year team driver Álvaro Parente in the No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 in the class’s Pro-Pro division, while Soulet will accompany young-talent Rodrigo Baptista in the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 in Pro-Am. While COTA will be new for the team’s SprintX additions, Parente and Baptista both have experience at the unique 3.4-mile course – which is widely known for its 133-foot climb into the first turn.
Parente has competed in the last five rounds at COTA. Last season in the series’ GTS class, Baptista earned a pair of podium finishes which included his fourth victory of the season.
The team’s driver line-up will seek to gain ground in still unfamiliar territory – the season regulars, Parente and Baptista, are still learning the Continental GT3 cars, and Soucek and Soulet are learning the tracks on the series schedule. Together the driving pairings will provide the opportunity for total team growth. Soucek and Soulet will bring a great deal of knowledge about the cars, and Parente and Baptista can help when it comes to navigating the courses from experience.
“I think what Max and I can bring over from our experience in Europe is that we’ve learned how to set up the car,” Soucek said. “The car has a window like every race car but particularly with the Bentley, it works really well when you find the right setup. That’s going to be one of the key things at COTA – to try and do as many laps in free practice as possible so we’re able to understand what we need from the car. I think Álvaro and Rodrigo can also be helpful with the tracks for us. So, I think it’s going to be a win-win and help each other get quicker.”
For more information about K-PAX Racing’s stop at COTA, visit world-challenge.com.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I think the track layout at COTA will be better for us. There is that first sector where I think we can be strong. The biggest thing is that we will go back to our work process and work hard in trying some things on the car to make it quicker. I’m looking forward to having a good weekend at COTA.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “The tracks in America seem to be bumpier than in Europe, that’s for sure. The curbs are bigger, too. The good thing about America is that some of the tracks are old-fashioned, cool tracks that I love. COTA is It is a quick track with very flowy sections in sectors one and three with fast corners, which is more suited for our car. We all want to win and every driver would say the same, but I think the most important thing is to stay out of trouble. We need to turn things around, and to do this we need to work with our head, be clever and be consistent with the pace we hopefully will have. I think a podium finish is a reasonable goal.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I think COTA will be a new challenge for us. We have a good car and I expect the car to be stronger at most of the tracks for the rest of the season. The Bentley will be very enjoyable to drive at COTA, and I’m looking forward to the race week.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m really elated to come back to the USA. The atmosphere racing here is always very special with the fans and the typical tracks. The Bentley Continental GT3 has always shown that it’s fast and reliable on every continent so I’m sure it will do the job at COTA. K-PAX Racing is one of the best teams in American racing, so I can’t wait to meet them and start working with them.”