K-PAX Racing captured three podiums during Rounds 7 & 8 of Blancpain GT World Challenge America at its home track of Sonoma Raceway. The team collected a second-place and two third-place finishes throughout the weekend, adding to its ongoing success of reaching the podium over the last four events.
“We’re still running very strong and in the fight for a championship,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “Coming into the weekend, we knew the track wasn’t going to be as favorable for our type of car, but the guys did a great job. To come out of here one position from the Ferrari in each race is good.”
The multi-podium result further extends the team’s streak of top-three finishes through four events. K-PAX Racing has scored 12 podiums since the start of the season, including at least two at every event. The team has podiumed at Sonoma every year since 2014 – except for last season, when there was no series event held at the team’s home base.
K-PAX Racing had a steeper hill to climb in the event finale, starting seventh (No. 9) and 10th (No. 3) overall on the grid. The No. 9 of Álvaro Parente darted to the inside of the first corner when the green flag dropped, quickly gaining two positions and valuable track position to contend with the series other top-competitors. The No. 3 of Max Soulet started the race in the thick of traffic, and the car was jostled back into 12th.
“It was a very chaotic start,” Soulet said. “I got hit everywhere – the back, the left side and the right side. It was a disaster. I lost a couple of positions, but I fought my way back up again.”
Parente entered pit-lane in fourth for the mandatory stop, where Soucek took the helm. The No. 9 made its final pass of the race with nearly 25 minutes remaining, overtaking the No. 91 Pro-Am entry and successfully securing podium position. In the final 15 minutes, two full-course yellow flags regrouped the field, allowing Soucek to try for second. However, he opted to not risk valuable championship points with a costly maneuver on each restart.
“The pit-stop went well, and I think we were one of the quickest cars again,” Soucek said. “That shows that the team is able to perform in every race which is very important for the championship. We didn’t have the pace, so I could only pass for third and the podium. After the restarts, I tried with [Miguel] Molina but it was a bit too dangerous. So, I decided to stay behind him, and I didn’t have his pace anyways.”
Members of both Family House and Bentley were on-site to support K-PAX Racing during the finale and throughout the race weekend. Law said between the team’s performance and having a cheering section at its home track, K-PAX Racing had a “great weekend all-around.”
“It was really a great weekend for us as far as Family House, and we had a lot of people who came out to support us,” Law said. “It was great to have them here cheering us on. It was also great to have Bentley here over the weekend with a lot of support and a parade lap of all the historic cars.”
The Blancpain GT World Challenge America series will take a brief hiatus, with the team competing in the next rounds August 30 – September 1 at Watkins Glen International (N.Y.). Last season, Rodrigo Baptista had the perfect race week in the team’s first-generation Continental GT3, sweeping both races from pole position.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 3rd) – “I had a really good start and managed to have great timing and pass two cars. I think that put us in a great position to not lose too much time from the guys up front.
The guys did a great pit-stop again. Andy was ‘on it’ with the new tires, and he made a great move to get into the podium. I’m really happy we minimized the challenges we faced. We did the best we could, and we’re very happy with this podium today.
It’s never good when you lose points to your main competitor, but at least we did not lose too many. Let’s see if we can get it back in the next two rounds, where the car should be stronger.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 3rd) – “For me, the main thing today was Álvaro’s start. It was really good – from seventh to fifth – on the first lap which was great. That gave us some some good position for the rest of the race, and Álvaro’s pace was good. But, we didn’t have the pace of the guys in front of us.
The pit-stop went well, and I think we were one of the quickest cars again. That shows that the team is able to perform in every race which is very important for the championship. We didn’t have the pace, so I could only pass for third and the podium. After the restarts, I tried with [Miguel] Molina but it was a bit too dangerous. So, I decided to stay behind him, and I didn’t have his pace anyways.
I’m pleased with the result. I think the points we got back are important for the next races in the championship. It’s going to be a close battle. That was not the best track for us, and we were still able to finish third in both races. We like to win, but it’s still a good result.
It’s a shame for the No. 3 because they could have finished right behind us. But, it’s racing. Now, it’s on to the next one.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 – 6th) – “We know it was going to be a tough one today. Starting from tenth is always hard at Sonoma. Max did an awesome job gaining some positions until our pit-stop. I got into the car and as soon as the car touched the ground, it didn’t go. I don’t know why, but we need to see what went wrong. We are fighting for a championship here and can’t have any room for mistakes or failure.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (Race 1 – 2nd, Race 2 – 6th) – “It was a very chaotic start. I got hit everywhere – the back, the left side and the right side. It was a disaster. I lost a couple of positions, but I fought my way back up again.
We had an issue during the pit-stop, and we’ll find out what happened later. We lost some valuable points here this week – more than what we wanted to. But overall, it was a good weekend for Bentley and for K-PAX Racing.”
Source. K-PAX Racing/Photo. K-PAX Racing/Bob Chapman