ALTON, Va. – K-PAX Racing continues its strong push into the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America Championship with the next two rounds of action April 26-28 at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). The team, with both of its second-generation Bentley Continental GT3s in title contention, return to a track where they have seen past success with the marque.
“[VIR] has been a great track for us, as it really complements the Bentley Continental GT3’s strengths,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “In 2018, we had a strong performance all weekend and came away with the overall win in the Pro-Am class. We did this with our first-generation Bentley. This year, we’re coming back to the track with the new second-generation car and with the increased performance of this car, we have a lot of confidence in this upcoming weekend.”
In 2018, K-PAX Racing won the overall race with its No. 3 Pro-Am entry, which was piloted by Rodrigo Baptista and Max Soulet. The two look to duplicate last year’s outcome – this time in the Pro category. The No. 3 team, sharing the second row with K-PAX Racing’s sister car in the opener, went on to win by a commanding 19.474-second margin over the field – and more than a 40-second margin in its class. The victory was K-PAX Racing’s first overall win of the season and with Bentley.
“Last year’s win was very special because it was our first overall victory – as a Pro-Am car,” Soulet said. “Going back there is going to bring back some good memories, and we hope to do the same this year.”
The team will continue the second-generation Continental GT3’s maiden voyage full-time through North America with the third and fourth rounds of GT3 action on the World Challenge schedule. To prepare for the upcoming event, K-PAX Racing privately tested at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course earlier this month. Law said following the two-day test, the team feels confident in the setup and with how the track continues to cater to the Continental GT3’s strengths into the second-generation model.
“As far as the tracks we race at, different circuits favor different platforms, and the Bentley’s strengths are corners that require high-downforce as well as high-speed circuits. That is exactly what VIR is,” Law said. “It has a lot of high-speed sectors that require a lot of grip. Our cars are also very compliant over the bumps, so this helps our drivers navigate entry and exit curbs without consequence.”
“We came here earlier this month and spent two days testing the new Bentley. We had all four drivers on-site and are continuing the development of the new car. Coming back here for a second year with the knowledge we gained last season combined with what we have learned so far in testing, we are a step ahead and look forward to showing what we can do.”
After receiving delivery of the second-generation models at the turn of the new year, K-PAX Racing has continued to prioritize race preparation through consistent testing – which has proved to be beneficial after the first two rounds of the championship. The team tested at Circuit of The Americas in March prior to the season-opener, where both cars collected three podiums in two races – including Bentley’s first-ever pole position and victory worldwide with the second-generation model.
K-PAX Racing currently has both its teams at the top of the championship standings – separated by a single point. The No. 3 team of Baptista and Soulet share the lead (37 points) in the Drivers’ Championship with the R. Ferrari Motorsport driver pairing, while the No. 9 of Álvaro Parente and Andy Soucek nearly make it a three-way tie at 36 points. K-PAX Racing leads the overall Team Championship by three points (43 points).
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “The test went quite well. We did a lot during the two days – especially during the second day because the it rained and snowed in the afternoon when we first got there. I think it was very productive as we got a really good idea on the car setup, and the balance was really good and consistent.
Once we get there for the race, we’ll have a better idea. We don’t know if the conditions will be the same in terms of weather and also track-grip level, so sometimes you will have to adapt and work on the setup. We are ready for that and really looking forward to the race week. We feel prepared for any of the challenges coming up here this week.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “We really had a great few days testing at VIR. Unfortunately for the first day, it started to rain but the second day was a lot better – perfect conditions. Overall, I’m very pleased with how it went. The car felt very good, and I feel like we’re in a good position to start the week ahead of the races. We did a lot of development on the setups, so the car is quick and reliable. We were able to do 170 laps which is quite a lot between Alvaro and me. I have a good feeling that we have a great car that will be able to fight for a good result during the races. I’m looking forward to it.
I think it’s important to say that these two Continental GT3s are leading the championship and it’s tight – only separated by a few points. It’s crazy how tight it is up there. We’re in a strong position heading into VIR, which includes a great test at the track earlier this month. We’re confident because we know what to expect from the car, and we know what to do in terms of setup. I think this track suits our car, which is very good. We did not expect to be that quick during the test here, so I think we have a great chance at fighting for the top spots. It’s a race track that even with the first-generation car, we are very competitive here. With the second-generation car, we should be at least as competitive. It’s my favorite track in the U.S. so this is the weekend I look forward to the most.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “It was a good test at VIR with lots of mileage. Car behavior was excellent and there was not a single problem. The baseline set up worked well. I think we are in good shape for the race weekend.
I love this track. It’s super fun and fast. We won the overall here last year, and I am looking forward to doing it again. I know the competition will be hard, but we will try to do our best as always.
I am really happy for Bentley, K-PAX Racing and myself. Starting the season with a victory is always a good signal, and I hope to repeat it again soon.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “The test went pretty well – especially it being our first time with the new car at VIR. We’ve had some past success here with the first-generation car, which is good. We did a lot of setup work, and I think we ended up with something good. I’m looking forward to this upcoming week to see what we can do.”