SALINAS, Calif. – April 12, 2020 – The K-PAX Racing driver combination of Patrick Byrne and Guy Cosmo – both who made their track-side debut with the team in early-March – joined SRO America Sunday for its inaugural GT Rivals Esports Invitational, where more than 30 entrants gathered for the opening event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Byrne and Cosmo, who competed separately for the 60-minute race, finished 19th and 23rd respectively to kick-off their seasons behind the wheel of a simulator.
“This is such a great opportunity for K-PAX Racing and our drivers,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “With everything going on in the world today, it is nice to have something positive to showcase and also provide an escape for our fans.”
Drivers battled head-to-head in the first round of esports competition in the GT racing simulation game Assetto Corsa Competizione, which featured a single-driver format – comprised of both professional drivers and sim players – a 20-minute qualifying round and 60 minutes of fierce series action through the Corkscrew. Under the team banner and seated in a thunderous second-generation Bentley Continental GT3, Cosmo piloted the No. 8 and Byrne the No. 9.
In a qualifying round of narrow margins, Cosmo secured 19th position on the grid. Byrne recorded a 27th best qualifying time, though starting the race in 32nd. The green flag waved the 34-car field into a chaotic start, featured by a multi-car incident in first turns of the challenging 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit. Through the carnage, Cosmo was able to pick up four spots within the first five minutes of action, while Byrne climbed to 20th in the field.
“What an adventure,” said Cosmo, who is new to the virtual racing scene. “This is intense – maybe more intense than racing in real-life itself. Maybe it’s because I’m so foreign to the virtual racing world, but it requires an enormous amount of time, learning, researching and tweaking. It is mind-blowing.”
“I’ve probably spent six hours at a time for the last couple nights tweaking even the computing aspect of this – the settings and calibrations through trial and error and learning what driving style responds best to Assetto Corsa Competizione. It is absolutely clear that the guys who spend the most time on the simulator are doing the best, but it’s fun to be able to race right now.”
Nearing the halfway mark, Cosmo continued his climb through the middle of the pack – on the heels of a position within the Top-10. However, contact while protecting track position into the sixth turn forced him to pit. Cosmo reentered the field in 25th position, while Byrne held steady in 21st.
Within the final 10 minutes of regulation, Byrne was able to get as high as 18th and Cosmo was able to recover three spots. The two would eventually finish close to each other, separated by three positions.
“This has given me, my co-driver and other drivers the opportunity to come together and talk,” said Byrne, who received his simulator last Tuesday. “Guy and I keep in touch often, but when this series started up, we’ve been calling each other every day and working like a team.”
“For the SIM guys who can watch the races and go home and do it on their simulators, now we’re talking to them and sharing data. It’s amazing how people outside the racing world – those who may have never got that chance or pursued it – know all the same things we know, just in a different arena. We’re having a tough time entering their arena and vice-versa, but we can all relate and share things even if everything does not perfectly correlate. It’s a cool way to bring the total racing community together.”
The SRO America GT Rivals Esports Invitational continues with Misano (Italy) April 19th.
“E-racing is a big part of our drivers training, and what better way to keep sharp, work on race-craft and have some fun that everyone can enjoy?” Law said. “We look forward to seeing our drivers race against the other drivers and teams, and we hope that we can get back on track in the not-too-distant future.”
Guy Cosmo – No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 23rd) – “The hard part about it is that it’s so satisfying to be behind the wheel with your peers again, but it’s also frustrating because you’re more accident prone. I think it’s a result of the adaptation to the virtual racing world in general – learning your spatial awareness and the closing rates, and how to maneuver. It makes the racing challenging. But in the end, the next race will be smoother and more entertaining.
I’ve tinkered on and off with my simulator for many years, but it wasn’t as hi-tech as the simulators today. I was so interested in stepping up my game before the pandemic, so I ordered new hardware – high-quality steering wheel, pedals and a chassis that I can bolt into. The saving grace is that we’re going racing and keeping our skills sharp. I hope a lot of this helps when we get back to racing.
Looking at the production of these races, I think it has to be as exciting for fans who want to see these cars and drivers. The stuff looks great, and it’s all the same people. The same thing is happening – just remotely. I think it’s a great distraction and keeps the hope alive that life will return back to normal.”
Patrick Byrne – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 19th) – “We’ve always gone places to tune-up for tracks, and we’d driven on professional simulators, but this is all still new to me. I got my SIM last Tuesday. I spent about 23 hours on that simulator through Wednesday because you can change about all aspects about the car – wheels, tires, dampers, suspension, brake pads and a plethora of other things. We’re just trying to learn about that, and you can calibrate your wheels and pedals. There’s a really steep learning curve to catch up to those who SIM regularly. But we still know how to race and pick up spots. We have to keep our skills sharp. I can workout as much as I want, but it does not replace the driving aspect of racing.
It’s been a steep learning curve we’ve had to learn quickly, but we look forward to getting better at the next tracks.”
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.