As we head into the next round of Blancpain GT World Challenge America at Sonoma Raceway, we sat down with one of their residents – K-PAX Racing - and had a chat with Team Manager, Darren Law.
Photos: Bob Chapman, Gavin Baker
K-PAX leads the team championship heading into your home race in Sonoma; what would it mean to the team to capture a win or two on home soil?
This is very important to us. Having our team based at this track means that we have a lot of family and friends and fans that will be in attendance. We have always run well here and of course we are in the fight for the championship so it is important for us to do well here. It would mean a lot.
It has been phenomenal. Bentley did a really nice job on the second-generation car, they took a long look at the positive and negative aspects from the first generation car and addressed each of those items. It has been a great improvement in so many areas and it is showing on track. We are having one of our best seasons yet. We have had a win and been able to qualify on pole at least once every weekend so far this season. With this new car we can get to a very good setup point in a short amount of time each weekend and the drivers have also been very impressed with the car. As a driver you can always find something you don’t like about the handling characteristics but honestly our drivers have come in multiple times after a run and said that the car (was) really nice (and not to) change it.
The drivers’ championship is tight at the top with K-PAX having its two cars in the championship hunt. What will it take to capture this year’s championship?
As always we have to run up front but it also takes consistency with our drivers on track and with the crew. GT3 racing is so tight you have to qualify well so you have track position. From this point on we can’t afford to have a bad finish; it is just too tight.
Is there any added pressure about performing at your home track?
There is some for sure, we are expected to do well since it is our home track but in the end, we will do the best we can and focus on the championship.
Knowing the track well, what are the keys to winning at Sonoma?
As is the case with many tracks there aren’t a lot of passing zones so qualifying well is important; we need to start off with good track position. At Sonoma you also have to manage the rear tires. There are a couple of corners that have heavy G loads that stress the tires then there are a couple that don’t have a lot of grip and it is easy to get wheel spin so you have to make sure you have a car underneath you in the long run.
If you were to jump in the car, could you go faster than Alvaro, Rodrigo, Andy, or Maxime?
At this point no. Honestly, these guys have so much seat time in these cars, they are at the top of their game and all 4 drivers are very good. They are racing hard all year long and know what it takes to get the most out of those cars. I am still in a racecar every month so I am driving on a regular basis but more on a test program not in full race mode. I did finally get the chance to drive our new Bentley about a week ago at Sonoma and I am happy to say even though I am no longer racing full time I was up to speed very quickly.
Favorite corner/s at Sonoma Raceway?
There are a couple that are a lot of fun if the car is good and you have the grip. Trying to stay on the throttle and driving it hard up the hill into turn 1 always feels great and also the 3/3A complex is a lot of fun because you can drive it in deep with the banking in turn 3 then at 3A you pop over a blind corner and the car gets really light and slides down the hill, it’s just a lot of fun.
Any challenges the Bentley will face at this circuit compared to its competitors?
Yes, the strength of the Bentley is high speed high grip sectors and Sonoma is more of a medium speed track with some tight sections that take a lot of power down grip so we may struggle a bit in those sections.
What can we look forward to from Bentley at Sonoma Raceway to celebrate its 100 Years?
This is a really big weekend for Bentley and K-PAX Racing. Bentley will be hosting a Centenary Celebration event at the track all weekend. We will have several waves of customers coming all weekend long with hospitality suites, garage tours and even a parade lap with vintage Bentley cars.