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Strong Showing for K-PAX Racing Across the Virtual Globe
Earns pair of Top-10’s, Expands Class Line-up
The K-PAX Racing effort saw eight Bentley Continental GT3s compete across three classes of SRO E-Sport GT Series action, not only introducing a new, real-world talent to its “Pro” line-up, but also earning multiple Top-10 performances, which highlights the team’s consistency since April alongside SIRIO eSports.
SRO E-Sport GT Series
The joint effort recruited Dani Clos, a former Spanish professional Formula One talent, to field a third Continental GT3 for the fourth round of Pro competition at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Clos joined real-world team drivers Jordan Pepper and Andy Soucek in his e-racing debut under the team banner, also enjoying the opportunity to compete with Soucek at their home-track.
Under clear track conditions, the three Pro-level drivers were scattered across the 28-car grid from qualifying. Pepper secured the eighth spot (1:43.521) – the leading Bentley in the session – Soucek 19th (1:43.917) and Clos 28th (1:44.499). Two of the three Continental GT3s experienced a relatively clean start for the race, but Pepper unfortunately lost track position by contact and would ultimately finish 27th. Soucek and Clos on the other hand, gradually climbed up the field in their campaigns.
Soucek finished as the top-Bentley in the field, climbing up the field in unison with Clos until about the halfway point, where he had his sights set on the Top-10. Soucek found himself in 12th for the second half of his run, battling fiercely with a M-Sport driven Continental GT3 ahead of him. He eventually made the pass around the 55-minute mark, and in the final two laps, put pressure on 10th position for an exciting finish in his favor. Clos was able to climb seven spots in his debut, finishing 21st.
“I want to thank the people involved in the project – Bentley Motorsport and K-PAX Racing for giving me the opportunity to race in their colors,” Clos said. For me, it’s something unique. It’s a great pleasure.”
“I also want to thank SIRIO eSports because they’ve given me all the knowledge, testing and coaching to be at the level I am now in less than a week. It’s been amazing. Every day we’ve done meetings and testing, and the coaches have been giving me all the right advice. I want to also thank Andy Soucek because he’s giving me the chance to be involved in this. He’s done all the right moves and spoke to the right people, and for me, it’s been a dream – even if it was for this project. I had so much fun competing against all these great drivers. For me, it’s a great pleasure.”
In the Silver class, two of the K-PAX Racing by SIRIO eSports Continental GT3s shared the honor as the top Bentley-driven cars on the grid at Barcelona, on the heels of the Top-10. Alberto Garcia qualified 12th (1:42.996) with Philippe Simard in the neighboring 13th position (1:43.026), and Tariq Gamil started 21st (1:43.386) to round-out the team’s three-car effort.
While Gamil engaged in contact on the start and Simard would fall victim the next lap, Garcia held steady in his qualifying position. Nearing the halfway mark, Garcia made his push into the Top-10, claiming the ninth spot with about 35 minutes remaining in the 60-minute race. Garcia remained in ninth through the final laps of the race, until making his move for eighth position. Completing the pass also came at a price of a 30-second penalty following the race, bumping him back to 16th. Gamil finished 24th, with Simard behind him in 25th.
The “Super Strehlow Bros.” of Steve and Raig buckled into their simulator seats Saturday for 60 minutes of SRO E-Sport GT Series “Am” Championship at Nürburgring (Germany), where K-PAX Racing by SIRIO E-Sports recorded a Top-10.
The performance is the team’s second-consecutive Top-10 performance – the eighth across SRO E-Sport GT Series and GT Rivals competition since March. The brothers have split Top-10’s – Steve picking one up at Nürburgring and Raig the weekend before at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium).
The No. 3 Continental GT3, piloted by Steve, was able to put together a clean campaign from his starting position of 11th (1:52.923), improving to an eighth-place finish – which was eventually revised to seventh. Raig, who endured some mid-pack contact throughout his run from 16th (1:53.055), battled through the field to finish 12th. Steve was the first Continental GT3 to cross the finish-line of the 60-minute race.
The fourth round of Am action will take place at Barcelona on June 6th, with coverage on the Race Department Twitch channel. The Pro and Silver classes will await the fifth round June 14th, with coverage starting at 7:45 a.m. (ET) on the SRO Facebook, Twitch and YouTube streams.
SRO GT Rivals E-Sports Invitational
Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit was the final landing spot on the SRO GT Rivals E-Sports Invitational schedule, with Guy Cosmo making his final e-racing appearance of the series schedule in the No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3. Cosmo went on to finish 25th in the grand finale, wrapping up the eight-round inaugural series having seen success.
Cosmo, who was new to the e-racing scene in March, was able to earn two Top-10 finishes (Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Barcelona) in his eight appearances. Throughout the pandemic where professional drivers across the world have resorted to staying sharp via simulator, Cosmo said the sim world also provided friends, family and fans access they would normally not get in a real-world setting.
“It was really positive in the way that it allowed all of us to keep our heads in a competitive space, and to entertain and engage with our fans,” Cosmo said. “I think the livestream offered fans the ability to see a side of racing that they wouldn’t have before – to be able to ride along with us and chat with us while we do what we do. My mother said that she became addicted to watching my on-board – ‘You’re my son. You’ve been doing this for thirty-something years. I have never seen racing from your eyes or hear what you’re thinking.’ It was really cool to be able to offer that to everybody.”
“I’m actually disappointed that when we go back to racing for real, we don’t get to offer that – we don’t get to offer people a look through our on-board and the ability to listen-in to our open mic. I think it was an opportunity for all of us to expose our skills, thoughts and to give a different perspective of what we do that I think racing really needs.”
A mixed field of 28 Pro-level and sim racers gathered for the GT Rivals finale, where Cosmo qualified 24th (1:42.207) for 60-minutes of action around another course beyond the GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS schedule. Another positive takeaway Cosmo continues to highlight in his time on the simulator is being able to race on different continents weekly, experiencing a wide array of tracks that would otherwise be difficult to see in the real-world.
The green flag waved the field into an intense start down the Kyalami front-straightaway – five-wide with a spin that allowed Cosmo to pick up four positions. Cosmo made a brief pit-stop in his campaign and after enduring a few incidents on-track, finished his sim season – now refocusing to the eventual reboot of the 2020 World Challenge season.
“I learned a lot about sim racing in general – all the different settings and calibrations,” Cosmo said. “I definitely learned a ton over the course of these eight weeks, but it also leaves me wanting to go racing for real. A life without the ability to get into a real racecar would be a sad one.”
Andy Soucek (PRO) – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 10th) – “It was another difficult one for us. Jordan [Pepper] got hit on the straight, and I’m sorry for him because he could have done a good job this weekend. I was hit by someone who was hit, and unfortunately, I dropped them back to last and I recovered to tenth with very good pace. I think it could have been a top-five under normal circumstances, but it is what it is. Let’s see if I’m in the Grand Finale.”
Jordan Pepper (PRO) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 27th) – “Again, I was the top-Bentley in qualifying. We had a mega car for the race. We were taken out in the first turn again by someone’s lack of talent. They decided to skirt on the grass and unfortunately, I got collected in a massive pile-up. The car was too damaged. I had to pit for repairs, which lasted three laps. Afterwards, it was pretty good. We were one of the quickest on-track – definitely quick enough for a podium and maybe the win. The potential was there but the result wasn’t. We just need to put our heads down for the finale.”
Dani Clos (PRO) – No. 24 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 21st) – “It’s been an amazing weekend – in general, it’s been an amazing week full of training, testing and intensity. The race was honestly great and 21st was good. I had a few issues during the race, and I could have been top-16 or 17. But, I got a drive-through penalty, and I couldn’t do more. The pace was all right – I still have a long way to go. Trying to compete against these guys, who have spent many hours playing and testing, it’s just impossible to get to that level in less than one week. So, I am really happy with the performance.”
Philippe Simard (SILVER) – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 25th) – “Qualifying went great. We got almost everything out of the Bentley on this track and again, we had a strong race car. I expected to be moving up. I was the one causing the first-lap incident this time unfortunately. The train of cars slowed down a lot on the apex of the fifth turn, and my attention was partly on a car by my side and I reacted too late to the cars ahead. I got a fully deserved drive-through penalty and then after that there is not much that could be done to score points. Alberto [Garcia] had a strong race inside Top-10 and Andy [Soucek] also made a huge comeback to score a point so that’s positive. We also got to know and work with Dani [Clos] the whole week and it was loads of fun having him around.”
Tariq Gamil (SILVER) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 24th) – “It was a positive event. As before, the team worked extremely hard throughout the last two weeks to be as prepared as possible for today. Whilst we mostly focused previously on analyzing ourselves and our car, we had time to learn about others leading up to the event which helped give us insight into how we can further improve our performance. We were extremely unfortunate being caught up in incidents with others with no fault of our own but despite this, the car felt amazing throughout the race and I felt confident to push it, even with the damage I incurred in the two high speed incidents I got tangled up in. I want to thank Philippe, Angel and Alberto for their amazing work with the car setups we all helped develop and also, I want to thank Andy, Emilio and Raul for their encouragement and support throughout our preparation.
I would like thank my family and friends for their moral support on this incredible journey and give a shout out to everyone in a racing community I race in, the Pretend Racing Organisation. Their support means a lot to me and I hope that in future, I can make my family, friends, K-PAX Racing, SIRIO eSports and Bentley proud with having a strong result at the next event, wherever that might be!”
Alberto Garcia (SILVER) – No. 6 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 16th) – “It’s was a very complicated and group race. I tried all race to save tires while I was behind the other cars. The car at the end felt good and had more pace than the cars in front and fighting for that final eighth position with David Tonizza. At the end of the race I saw Tonizza open up in the chicane and pull me over, when he started to close, I tried to avoid him with the bad luck of catching the inside curb. I touched his car and he turned around. The truth is that after 35 minutes of being behind a car trying to make it end like that, it’s a shame.”
Steve Strehlow (AM) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 7th) – “We spent so many hours on the setup and qualifying went well. The track was fine, and I was really able to push. I was making ground throughout the track, but it was difficult to overtake because the braking was challenging in the Bentley. So, I was constantly looking for places where I could make passes. I was protecting my tires, so I could make the moves when the opportunities were there. Luckily, the Bentley is really easy to set up, and for this race, we focused on the suspension. We gained so much time with those tweaks, and all that work really helped us be the fastest Bentley out there.”
Raig Strehlow (AM) – No. 4 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 12th) – “On the start, I followed the cars nicely and in the second corner I was touched by another car and I crashed. The same thing happened in the second corner which was a little harsh, but I started to pick up speed and gain positions. The car was quick. I had a really quick pace, and I had my sights set on 10th. I tried to overtake the other guys but overtaking became difficult. I think I had too much damage on the front to move forward at the end, but the pace was really awesome – at times quicker than my brother. We had a great car, but with no chance to overtake, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”
Guy Cosmo – No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 25th) – “My frustration throughout the eight weeks was purely from my inability to ‘crack the code’ [of sim racing] and be faster. The competitive itch in my body wanted me to be wheel-to-wheel today, even if I was racing for 20th. I wanted to be racing with someone, and sim was the way I could scratch that. I’m hoping one day I figure it out, but I can’t wait to get back to real racing.
I’m still only exposed to certain racing by my own involvement in it, but what I’m interested in seeing are the big sim tournaments that take place. I have never followed any sim racing up to this point – only by my participation which was still geared heavily toward racing drivers and not really the sim world. I’m very curious about what the sim world is really like. There were a lot of pros and cons in the different series during this time – some bad things have happened like some guys being a little too open and saying things they shouldn’t have and there are a lot of repercussions from the downside of what this exposes people to. But all-in-all, it has piqued my interest in seeing what the next generation of racing is like.”
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.
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