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K-PAX Racing Runner-Up in SRO E-Sports Grand Finale
Team’s two Bentley Continental GT3s battle mixed field for extended two-hour race at Suzuka
K-PAX Racing concluded its first full virtual season Sunday with the SRO E-Sport GT Series Championship Grand Finale at Suzuka Circuit (Japan), entering two of its SIRIO eSports supported Bentley Continental GT3s for two hours of elite series action. The team, represented by Andy Soucek (PRO) and Alberto Garcia (SILVER) for the final round, ended its campaign on a high-note with a PRO-class podium in a season that showcased the team’s ability to adapt and create success in a different racing arena.
K-PAX Racing stepped firmly into sim amid the restrictions of real-world racing seen worldwide from COVID-19, and it saw the limiting factors as an opportunity to test new bounds and join the Assetto Corsa Competizione server. The team fielded a separate, two Bentley Continental GT3s in the SRO GT Rivals Invitational and in short time, assembled a five-car effort with SIRIO eSports in the sanctioning body’s E-Sport GT Series Championship. The joint-venture saw breakthrough success in its first outing, which later made way for an expanded seven-car line-up across all categories in the championship. K-PAX Racing consistently had a nine-car operation across two series, with a cameo appearance of former F1 driver Dani Clos during the fourth round at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
K-PAX Racing was able to score two top-10 finishes in eight rounds of GT Rivals, and in the E-Sport GT Series Championship – five rounds in each of the three categories (PRO, SILVER, AM), with the addition of the Grand Finale – compiled six top-fives, nine top-10s and one victory (Round 1, Silverstone – Jordan Pepper).
“When SRO announced its E-Sport GT Series, K-PAX Racing and specialist consultancy SIRIO eSports joined forces for a great challenge,” SIRIO eSports Director Emilio de Villota said. “We were able to take its real-world cars, liveries and drivers, which have had huge success together in real life, and merge them with expert sim racers, team management and engineers who specialise in Assetto Corsa Competizione.”
“In doing this, we maintained the spirit of K-PAX Racing while also benefitting from the expertise at SIRIO eSports. The way that the real-world and sim drivers worked together tirelessly to benefit each other has made this a very special project, and we’re very proud to have achieved a race win and podiums in K-PAX Racing’s maiden e-sports project.”
Soucek and Garcia were two of the three Bentleys that made up the 33-car competing grid for the finale. K-PAX Racing, having a stake in two of the three categories, was one of seven entries in the PRO category and one of 20 in SILVER. Garcia qualified 18th overall and Soucek 27th, set for two hours of racing with one mandatory pit-stop.
As the race progressed, the differentiating pace separated the categories. But, the team’s two Continental GT3s stayed fairly close throughout their campaigns, battling mid-pack in a mixed field and eventually finished side-by-side. Garcia was able to improve on his starting position to a 17th-place finish (15th in SILVER), while Soucek competed at the top of his class to finish 18th overall (2nd in PRO).
“It was good fun, and the car behaved so well throughout the entire race,” Soucek said. “I did not make many mistakes throughout my race. I was the best PRO up until the last 20 minutes.”
“[Ezequiel] Companc had a different pit strategy where he went with a lot of fuel in the beginning – making him a lot slower and I was able to put a 10-second gap on him. But [the gap] was not good enough at the end because he caught me and pulled away. Unfortunately, it could not be a win in the PRO class, but nevertheless, he is an expert sim racer with his own academy and is teaching people. So basically, he’s a lot more experienced than me, but the main thing is that I had a lot of fun.”
Andy Soucek (PRO) – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 2nd) – “The strategy was good. The whole K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports team did a fantastic job keeping me updated throughout the race. I had so much fun even though I struggled with pace a little bit. But, I’m not a sim racer and started this two months ago, and I was fighting with some of the best sim racers in the world. I was pretty proud of my performance, despite the result. It was a great first experience racing against SILVER drivers – professional sim drivers who are at a very high skill level.
Even though some of our K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports team did not qualify, like Tariq [Gamil] and Philippe [Simard], they put so much effort into giving us a very good car – from setting up everything for the strategy, developing the strategy notes for the car to working on the setup itself. Thanks to them, I did a decent job – with not a lot of practice because I wanted to focus on Imola more than anything in the real-world.
K-PAX Racing should return to sim racing because with Jordan [Pepper], myself, and all the sim racers, we’ve been on the screen letting the world know that they are taking this very seriously.
The BoP, and I never complain about it, was a mistake by the organization because it really hurt us. I don’t know what they did, but our car as incredibly slow in the straight-line. I couldn’t even defend from Companc and he passed me with ease like he was in a different category.”
Alberto Garcia (SILVER) – No. 6 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 15th) – “It was a very complicated race from the beginning, and we were touched a couple of times and we stayed at the end of the peloton. We had to overcome with consistency and pace, then we had several fights with many drivers making the comeback. It was challenging to overtake because we did not have all the straight-line speed that we would have liked. We were fighting for a top-10 at the end, but the game puts some warnings a little unfair as there were two of them when I was thrown off the track by other drivers. It had been very difficult to fight on this circuit and with this car. I feel that I have given everything and that once again we are missing a fantastic result. I think we need a fairer BoP (Balance of Performance).
I am very happy with the team and what we have achieved. We must not forget that Jordan [Pepper] and Andy [Soucek] qualified in the PRO and we could have had all five cars in this great finale if we do not add up all the misfortunes that have happened to us. I think we are a great team and that the results will come sooner rather than later. We have a great group and we work well together.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 148 podiums, 59 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class, K-PAX Racing 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. The team made a switch to Bentley for 2018, fielding the first-generation Continental GT3 in its first season and the second-generation model in 2019.
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, Paul Williams 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.
Circuit of The Americas 2021