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K-PAX Racing Doubles Down in Victoria Day SpeedFest Opener
Places second and third in fifth round of series action
K-PAX Racing battled to a double-podium finish Saturday in the fifth round of Blancpain GT World Challenge America at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The finishes by the pair of Bentley Continental GT3s keep the team in the hunt for its third Team Championship, while both driver pairings are vying for K-PAX Racing’s fifth Drivers Championship.
The No. 3 and No. 9 started mid-pack in the Pro grid – fourth and sixth respectively. Both Rodrigo Baptista and Andy Soucek gained ground toward the top of the field in their opening stints, relying on the pit-stop to try for the podium. The No. 9 opted to pit early in the window, successfully breaking into the top-three, while the No. 3 looked to gain ground following some challenges after its stop.
“We had to do something different, so pitting before the others gave us some time,” Soucek said. “Álvaro [Parente] could then warm up the tires, and it definitely gave us an advantage at the end.”
Both Continental GT3s moved in unison into striking distance of a double-podium. While Parente bought his time to make a pass on the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports car late in the race, Max Soulet followed closely behind in fourth position. At that time, the group separated itself from the rest of the field; Soulet opened-up more than a 20-second gap from fifth position.
In the turning point of the race, the No. 22 made a series of miscues which opened the door for Parente to make his move. Parente managed to maneuver around the car into the fifth turn, and Soulet found enough space to pick up podium position. For the next three corners, both K-PAX Racing Continental GT3s were fender-to-fender, until Parente secured second.
“I knew Álvaro was going to make a move [on the Porsche] at some point, and we both went by after his mistake,” Soulet said. “I was next to him and we had a bit of a drag race, but I was not going to risk it into the eighth turn. It’s a long championship, and I was not going to risk it.”
The two podiums bring K-PAX Racing’s tally up to seven after five rounds of series action. K-PAX Racing has a 19-point lead in the Team Championship (111 points). The No. 9 driving pairing of Parente and Soucek currently rank second in a tightly contested Drivers Championship (79 points), while the No. 3 of Baptista and Soulet are third (77 points).
Parente and Soucek were given the VP Racing Fuels “Hard Charger” award after climbing four positions – the most of any car in the field.
The No. 9 car and its crew showed its perseverance in Friday’s qualifying, ultimately giving them pole position for the Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest finale. After enduring some challenges in the first group — piloted by Soucek — the Continental GT3 led a select group into 1:15.000 lap times. Parente was one of six drivers to break the 16-second threshold, and setting the fastest lap time of both groups, was awarded pole position with a 1:15.568.
K-PAX Racing extends its streak of poles during the 2019 season. Through six rounds of qualifying, one of the team’s Continental GT3s has been represented at the top of the grid four times. The team has had the honor of leading the field into the green flag in at least one round of each event.
The No. 3 will start fourth in the grid for Sunday’s finale. Soulet recorded a 1:15.825 on his second-to-last lap.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 2nd) – “The Porsche made two mistakes, and the only way to get by people here – because everyone is at the same pace – is if someone makes a mistake. I took advantage of his mistakes, and he still tried to make the corner with my car already in there. I was on the inside and we touched a little bit. He lost two positions, and Max tried to go by me while we were tangled-up and after the exit I had. Fortunately, I maintained the position in the eighth turn.
It was a hard stint – following a car the entire time. But it was a great result given where we started. We’ll continue to work hard for tomorrow, and we’ll see what we can do from pole. Starting in the best position gives us a great advantage, and we’ll try to keep it until the end.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 2nd) – “My stint was quite challenging. I was in the lead-group. I tried to pass [Wolf] Henzler a few times, but it just wasn’t possible. Once we got behind a car – especially the Porsche – we’d lose the front and understeer a lot. We were not able to get close enough in some corners. I knew I just had to give Álvaro the car in the best position possible. We tried to do the undercut in the pits – which we did. We passed one car and became close with the others on the restart.
I wish I could have given Álvaro the car in a little bit better of a position. In the last two laps of my stint, Henzler lost the car and we were fighting a little bit. We lost a little too much to the guys up-front, and maybe it would have got us the win. But, there’s always “ifs.”
We had to do something different, so pitting before the others gave us some time. Álvaro could then warm up the tires, and it definitely gave us an advantage at the end.
Álvaro did a mega job and drove the maximum out of the car. I’m very pleased with second place at the end. It was not a disaster to place second from sixth. It was a good recovery.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd) – “There was nothing I could do from fourth. It is a bit difficult to pass at this track because of the aerodynamics and it being a fast track. I was just trying to get as close as possible to the cars up-front and gain some positions in the pit-stop. We almost did, but because of an issue in the pits, we weren’t able to. But the team did a great job.
I think we need to do the same as we did today for the finale. We need to gain positions at the start. The car is perfect, and there is nothing we can change in it. We are really fast. We just need to find a good spot on the track and go from there.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd) – “We had an issue in the pit-stop where the car would not stop, and we lost quite a bit of time. It’s really difficult to pass here.
I knew Álvaro was going to make a move [on the Porsche] at some point, and we both went by after his mistake. I was next to him and we had a bit of a drag race, but I was not going to risk it into the eighth turn. It’s a long championship, and I was not going to risk it. It was a good day for K-PAX Racing. We picked up a lot of points.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 132 podiums, 56 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, 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.
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