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K-PAX Racing Splits Victories at VIR
Team completes the sweep in Rounds 3 & 4
K-PAX Racing showcased the strengths of its second-generation Bentley Continental GT3s during the third and fourth rounds of Blancpain GT World Challenge America at VIRginia International Raceway, completing the sweep with a trip to victory lane in the event finale. The team’s two cars share the spotlight of the weekend, splitting victories.
“Like always, we’re very proud of this team,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “We had a podium both days — the No. 9 car yesterday and the No. 3 car today. Those guys did a great job. Maxime [Soulet] did a killer first stint and once he was able to clear out of traffic, he made up a lot of time and set fast lap. Rodrigo [Baptista] had no mistakes and brought it home. We’re very happy with the outcome. We need to especially thank the team, which did some hard-work in the pits and Thomas [Blam] who did a great job with strategy. All things fell into place to put is on the podium today.”
The team emerged as one of the strongest competitors in the grid early-on by not only recording the fastest two times in practice (1:44.369; 1:44.531) but also being awarded pole position for both 90-minute rounds. While Álvaro Parente helped the No. 9 team earn the pole for the opener with a 1:43.614 — his first of the season — Andy Soucek followed up his teammate’s performance by recording the fastest time of 1:43.363 in the second group.
K-PAX Racing went on to win the third round, tightening its grasp around the championship standings — and what would be the team’s fifth series title since 2007. Soucek was not only given the Shyft Capital “Quick Shyftr Award” for the race’s fastest time of 1:44.526, but also won his first race in America. The driver pairing of Parente and Soucek also went on to win their first-ever race under the team banner.
The No. 9 led the 17-car field into the fourth round of series action, where the team continued its strong showing on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course. Soucek, who started the race, briefly lost first position while defending the spot into the first corner. Still maintaining a strong pace, Soucek kept the No. 58 Wright Motorsports car in his sights, until a slow puncture in the left-rear tire forced the car to pit early. Soucek was able to recover some ground, however an incident during the driver change ended the day for the No. 9 team after 26 laps.
“I knew we could have a really good pit-stop, and we could pass the No. 58,” Soucek said. “It didn’t go to plan because we had a slow puncture, and I was warned over the radio. On the lap when I was going to pit and in the final corner, the tire just exploded. I couldn’t control the car and went off. It took me a little bit of time to get back to the pits, and I didn’t want to take any risks with traffic coming. We went out again and were still quick, but we lost a lot of ground.”
“The next time we pitted, we were a little unlucky and the car caught fire. What matters is that we’re all safe, and that we can now look forward to the next race.”
The No. 3 of Baptista and Soulet rebounded from a challenging third round, where an incident prematurely ended their run. This time, starting sixth on the grid, the two made quick-work of the cars ahead of them, climbing into podium position by the driver change around the half-way mark. With a quick pit-stop, the No. 3 car catapulted to the lead, where Baptista was uncontested for the remainder of the race.
As a pair, Baptista and Soulet took top-honors for a second-straight event, winning this time by more than a 10-second margin. They also recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 1:44.855. Both drivers owe Sunday’s success to the crew, who not only spent the night before repairing the car in-time for the finale, but also executed a quite pit-stop.
“The team did their job on the pit-stop,” Baptista said. “This race was certainly for the crew. They did a phenomenal job repairing the car, and they spent a long time on it to prepare for today’s race. The car was perfect.”
The victory extends a spectacular streak for the team, as it has taken top-honors in three of the last four races. Since the start of the season, the team has also been awarded pole position at least once in both events — three times total in four rounds of competition.
“We’re going for the championship, and it’s a fight,” Law said. “There are a lot of great teams and good drivers. It’ll be a tough season – and it’s still early – but we’re happy with the program, and with Bentley and the new car. So, everything is going well.”
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – NC) – “It was not our day. We had a punture with Andy in second and then the fire in the pits, so I didn’t get to drive. You have days like these, but at least the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 won. We’re happy for our teammates and for the team.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – NC) – “I think it was a positive weekend overall. I know today did not go the way we wanted it to but all-in-all, we won both races as a team. We learned quite a lot. We had a really good setup, especially in qualifying where we grabbed pole position for both races. I think that’s important, because we were able to prove that the car was fast and that we can start in the front. The first race is awesome because we got the victory we’ve been wanting for so long.
To be fair, everything was looking good in the second race. I was very relaxed in second position. I knew we could have a really good pit-stop, and we could pass the No. 58. It didn’t go to plan because we had a slow puncture, and I was warned over the radio. On the lap when I was going to pit and in the final corner, the tire just exploded. I couldn’t control the car and went off. It took me a little bit of time to get back to the pits, and I didn’t want to take any risks with traffic coming. We went out again and were still quick, but we lost a lot of ground. The next time we pitted, we were a little unlucky and the car caught fire. What matters is that we’re all safe, and that we can now look forward to the next race.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – NC, Race 2 – 1st) – “Max did the job, and I brought the car home. The team did their job on the pit-stop. This race was certainly for the crew. The did a phenomenal job repairing the car, and they spent a long time on it to prepare for today’s race. The car was perfect.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – NC, Race 2 – 1st) – “We had a much better day than yesterday, that’s for sure. I had an all right start, and I managed to find a pace. Then, we had a really good pit-stop, and Rodrigo finished strong.
I knew I just needed to keep up with the Ferrari, and that’s what I did. I was not going to take any risks. I just wanted to manage the pace, and then I saw the Porsche was backing off quite a bit, because he was losing pieces of tires. I knew Rodrigo and I are really quick with pit-stops, and the boys did a great job.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 130 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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WATKINS GLEN 2019