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Seven K-PAX Racing Continental GT3s Represented Across Multiple SRO E-Sports Series Events
Team Battles in Full-Sunday Schedule at Spa and Suzuka
Xynamic Motorsport Photography
K-PAX Racing continues its global charge in multiple e-sports racing series hosted by SRO, where seven drivers competed under the team banner Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and Suzuka Circuit (Japan). The virtual GT racing world has provided the real-world K-PAX Racing drivers an unexplored arena to test their skills at new tracks, under intense series action amongst their peers and proven sim racers.
In the SRO E-Sport GT Series, the team sought to build on its resounding first round victory with SIRIO E-Sports, leading the Pro class championship into Spa. The team worked tirelessly, accounting for the 25-kilogram ballast added from the first round, while also notably hosting Bentley Motorsport and a few of the manufacturer’s other customer teams to an all-Bentley free practice session.
The session saw 19 drivers, which also included GT Rivals E-Sports Invitational drivers Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, who competed at the iconic track last weekend. Cosmo and Byrne followed-up the E-Sport GT Series with the fifth round of Rivals action at Suzuka, where the team’s two Bentley Continental GT3s raced into the Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) sunset.
SRO E-Sport GT Series
In the Pro category, round-one race winner Jordan Pepper and Andy Soucek qualified 27th (2:17.970) and 31st (2:18.129) respectively in their Bentley Continental GT3s and set sail for 60 minutes of clear-weather action around the legendary Spa course.
Pepper began his ascent through the record-setting 46-car virtual field, making the pass on eight competitors within the first five minutes of his campaign. However, an incident nearing the 10-minute mark forced the No. 3 to retire from the race prematurely. Soucek, driving the No. 9, was also a victim of race carnage as he was swept-up in the opening lap.
“We knew it was going to be tough to get the points with that qualifying, but it was possible,” Soucek said. “The race-pace was not too bad. We had the extra ballast which made our lives more difficult, but not being able to compete makes it even more difficult to accept. Both Jordan and I were very unlucky as he got hit from the back and turned around as well. So, we were both out in the opening laps.”
Clouds rolled in for the Silver class, where the 47-car field experienced cooler track conditions following the Pro race. The K-PAX Racing by SIRIO E-Sports three-car Silver assault of Philippe Simard, Tariq Gamil and Alberto Garcia qualified 22nd (2:16.947), 27th (2:16.995) and 47th on the grid for its 60-minute run.
The Silver race posed similar challenges for the team’s line-up of Continental GT3s. However, the team heads into the third round of total series action with a clean slate – still having a strong voice in the championship-conversation and as a front-running Bentley-driven effort.
SRO GT Rivals E-Sports Invitational
Cosmo and Byrne, who are both further along in their virtual racing debuts, ventured to their fourth-consecutive international course, where GT Rivals saw its largest grid yet of 38 total competitors. The pair of red-accented K-PAX Racing Continental GT3s – driven in real-life by the drivers –continue to compete in a mixed field of both real-world and experienced sim racers, showing promising moments of successful battles and runs up the field.
Cosmo and Byrne secured the 21st (2:01.194) and 27th (2:02.451) spots on the grid for 60 minutes of sprint action. Under race conditions that slowly transitioned to dusk (like Spa), the team’s two-car effort battled mid-pack – and on occasion shared positions next to each other.
At the start, Cosmo skated by a multi-car pile-up with Byrne closely behind – both cars unscathed and picking up valuable track position. The two Continental GT3s ran in 17th and 18th after the opening sequence.
“I just barely avoided a bunch of cars and squeezed my way through,” Cosmo said. “I was pleased to find my way through that without any trouble.”
“My new-found approach to all this virtual racing – and I repeat it to myself – is, ‘I will not hit anyone.’ I’m much cleaner at the start of these races, and I’ve learned to calm-down the aggression. I know how to read the field a lot better now, so when a lot of these incidents are taking place, I can see them coming. I know what the warning signs are, which are different than real-life. I’m starting to adapt to the race-craft a whole lot better.”
On the following lap, Cosmo took advantage of a competitor that spun, but soon found himself protecting the spot nearing the 10-minute mark. Cosmo continued to battle the field despite eventually losing ground to a tire pressure that acknowledged the race’s time transition. Toward the end of the race, the two were again in neighboring positions – where they would eventually finish.
Byrne highlighted that the virtual world offers real-world drivers the opportunity to experience mostly any track (offered by ACC) from the comfort of a simulator seat. Of the five rounds of Rivals action – Laguna Seca (Calif.), Misano World Circuit (Italy), Paul Ricard (France), Spa (Belgium) and Suzuka – Byrne has driven on two of the tracks listed. Between Misano, Paul Ricard and now Suzuka, Byrne said he has enjoyed testing his skills at new venues.
“I’ve never been to Suzuka before, and it was a total blast,” Byrne said. “It had such good flow, and it’s more of an ‘equation track’ in that you need to figure out where to give and where to gain. It’s not obvious, whereas with other tracks it can be. I don’t know how much time I spent in the seat, but I had a blast.”
“I’ve ran the Asian Le Mans Series before and Suzuka is not a stop there, so other than that series – if they ever made it a stop – I wouldn’t know how I would have driven Suzuka and probably not have thought of it as a part of my ‘Top-10 Track List.’ But through Rivals, we had a chance to experience it.”
Andy Soucek (PRO) – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 45th) – “In the first corner into a whoosh, there was an incident in front, and the driver to my left just turned into my car. I was out from the very beginning, and it’s very frustrating. I know it’s just an in-game simulation, but we’ve put so much effort into this race – two weeks of working non-stop for six hours a day sharing data and setups – and we were trying so hard to be competitive. Sorry to all the people who have been working so hard with us for the past two weeks, and we’ll move on to Nürburgring. It’s so hard to take – maybe harder than real-life – because you keep looking at the replays, thinking about what you could have done differently. But looking at it, there’s not much I could have done.”
Jordan Pepper (PRO) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 43rd) – “A massive shoutout to the team for the hard work and effort they have put in – SIRIO eSports, Phil [Simard], Tariq [Gamil] and Alberto [Garcia]. They have all put in a strong effort again to build a good package. It felt good to be a little bit more involved now that I know the game better. I think we came up with a great package carrying the 25 kilograms. We knew it was going to be super-tough, but after qualifying and doing a perfect lap to be 27th, it was very frustrating. I’ve never been 1.8 seconds off in my life. I knew we had a great racecar, so I was optimistic. I just wanted to get points, so I was thinking long-game – have a good start, settle into a rhythm and put my head down.
I got that good start – up to 17th – and then unfortunately my race was ended by someone else. I got spun into the wall, and there’s nothing I could have done. It’s frustrating. Some people say it’s in a game, but when you put in so much work and effort, it’s tough. I can’t emphasize how frustrating and disappointing it is for the team. Everyone rides on the highs, and when you get a low because of someone else, it makes it even worse. But, we’ll move on. The positive is that we’re second [in the championship] and two points back, and we’ll have minus 25 kilograms. We’re going to put our heads down and do well.”
Philippe Simard (SILVER) – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 27th) – “It was a disappointing weekend, considering where we could have been. But, we knew it would be challenging to race in a tight pack like this. We worked so hard this week in setting up the car because we knew we were a bit behind because of BOP. We wanted to get everything out of the car to score some valuable points. I was working with Andy [Soucek] and Jordan [Pepper] all week to help get them up to speed, and I think we were doing well.”
Tariq Gamil (SILVER) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 46th) – “In terms of preparation, we’ve done really well. We did a lot of different testing, including wet-weather testing. The only thing that compromised us a bit – and was out of our control – was the Balance of Performance (BOP). It really hurt us. There were other manufacturers that had a lot more performance, which made our lives very difficult. We maximized all we could out of the car, and there’s only so much we can do or control.”
Alberto Garcia (SILVER) – No. 6 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 37th) – “I was very disappointed with the result obtained by both me and the boys. The bad luck during qualifying left us in a fight where we should not have been, and everything was reversed. I had some very nice fights when I went out last with up to five or six cars in areas where there is room for two. After the laps I think that in a legal overtaking I took a drive-through to overtake with two wheels off track. I’m very happy with the work of all the team in the car. The next one will be better, that’s for sure. We’re still the first Bentley and that’s good for us.”
Guy Cosmo – No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 25th) – “Fortunately, I was able to avoid a lot of the big incidents the first couple of laps, and we picked up a bunch of positions. I had a pretty strong run going, and I had consistency on my side. I had a solid run going, but I just had my tire pressures set wrong. I overcompensated for the transition into dusk, and that really bit me for the majority of my stint. The car was getting really difficult to hang onto, and in turns six and seven spun the thing around on my own. I got back to the pits, went back out and had some fun – hoping I could go wheel-to-wheel with Patrick [Byrne], but he was too far ahead.
I’m generally improving overall, getting acclimated every race. There’s a code to crack with this.
Patrick Byrne – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 24th) – “My run was looking really good until I got whacked from behind. It’s frustrating, but the name of the game is to be consistent, not get hit and then all the sudden you’re in the Top-10. Among the Top-10, you can learn how to race them and race them hard, because they’re actually pretty good. I felt I was on-track to do that.”
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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