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Parente Claims Road America Opener
K-PAX Racing Reaches 50-win Milestone
After 50 minutes of Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Sprint GT action, race-winner Álvaro Parente was met in victory lane by an ecstatic K-PAX Racing team. The Grand Prix of Road America opener was special for a variety of reasons, and Parente’s climb to the top-step meant more than just the 2016 Series Champion’s second win of the season.
In three seasons with K-PAX Racing, Parente captured his 12th victory Saturday during the sixth round of Sprint GT. The feat was not only K-PAX Racing’s first-ever win at the Midwestern gem, but it also marked the 50th win in team history. K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said the Road America opener was “a great start” as the team “accomplished several milestone moments” in team history.
“Rodrigo Baptista showed us why he has earned the designation as a pro driver with a strong qualifying effort by missing out on the front row by just two-tenths of a second,” said Law, listing the feats achieved by the team. “He has the speed and he drove well in the race. Álvaro proved once again why he is currently one of the best GT drivers in the world. He not only took his second win of the season, but also gave K-PAX Racing its first-ever win at Road America and the 50th win for the team.”
“I am very proud to have been part of that history. I have been involved with K-PAX Racing since 2015, and we have had many great achievements from wins to poles to championships. It is great to have contributed and been a part of this milestone.”
Parente echoed Law when he stepped off the podium. He said he was very happy to have won at Road America – a track that he was enjoyed since his first season in 2016 – and to have helped K-PAX Racing reach its milestone with the victory.
“It’s a mix of emotions winning today with the Bentley here – a track I have really liked the last two years I’ve been here but with a different car that didn’t have great top-speed,” said Parente, comparing the strengths of the Bentley Continental GT3 on the Road America course to past manufacturers. “It’s a track I really enjoy and winning was great. K-PAX Racing winning 50 races is quite the accomplishment. I’m proud to be winning the 50th for them. It’s been a great weekend so far.”
From a third position, Parente used a series of starts to make his way into the lead. When the green flag dropped, the No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 dove to the inside and made a run at the two cars in front of him. Though he was unable to secure the pass for second in the first two turns of the race, he was able to capitalize on the position heading into the fifth turn of the opening lap.
“The start was quite good,” Parente said. “I was following [Daniel] Mancinelli into the first turn and [Scott] Hargrove had a huge launch on the outside, braking quite late. He got me there and I tried to get him in the second turn, but it wasn’t possible. On the next hairpin in the fifth turn there, Mancinelli and Hargrove got together and I took advantage of that. I went up to second.”
Shortly after Parente claimed the second spot, a full-course yellow regrouped the field; It was the first time this season all the PWC competing classes were grouped into one field. On the restart, Parente made a surge of his own to the front.
“On the restart, Mancinelli was sleeping a little bit and I timed it just right,” Parente said. “It went really well, and I managed to get the lead there. I got him there quite comfortably. From there I managed the pace, the guys behind me and having clean air in the front is always different – you can manage the race a lot better.”
Parente led the rest of the race to the checkered flag, winning by a 1.313-second margin. Driver of the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3, Rodrigo Baptista, finished seventh in his Sprint GT Pro debut. Baptista said “the pace and car were good,” and he is optimistic for Sunday’s event finale.
“The pace was the same as the other [pro-level] guys,” Baptista said. “I don’t think our position was good during the start and the restart, but we have a good car for tomorrow. I’ll try to push, and we’ll see what happens.”
Parente recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 2:07.021, which will put him on the provisional pole for the seventh round of PWC Sprint GT. For more information about the PWC Grand Prix of Road America, visit world-challenge.com.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 1st) – “In fifth and sixth gear, we gained a little bit. I’m glad to get the win. I don’t remember having such a tough start to the season – ever. You definitely need to adapt your driving to the Bentley and you need to learn how to get the maximum out of the car in the shortest period of time possible. I think we’ve managed to do that. I know at some tracks I’m not going to be as strong with this car, but some of the other tracks like Road America I’m going to be stronger. That is what’s good about GT3 racing.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 7th) – “I think at the start of the race, I waited a little too long to put the power down on the car. I lost two positions there. Then on the restart, I tried to pass one guy and it threw me a little into the grass, but that’s racing. But, the pace is good and we have a good car for tomorrow.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 120 podiums, 50 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class K-PAX 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.
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.
Optimum Polymer Technologies, the manufacturer of Opti-Coat, was founded in Memphis, Tenn., on July 1, 2001 by Dr. David Ghodoussi. Prior to this, Dr. Ghodoussi worked for over 12 years as an Organic Chemist overseeing research and development focused in polymers and automotive paint formulations.
For more than a decade, Opti-Coat has been setting the industry standard with their unique coating technologies developing and manufacturing proprietary resins utilizing Silicon Carbide (SiC) chemistry. Opti-Coat’s purpose is to provide clients with a product that is the most durable, innovative and protective coating available.
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