K-PAX Racing announced Wednesday its entry in the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, which marks the perennial title contender’s first full-season stint outside of the United States. The team’s participation in the series’ five-round Endurance Cup features a two-car effort with the second-generation Bentley Continental GT3.
“This is really an amazing opportunity for K-PAX Racing,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “The team has performed so well since its inception in 2007 – with multiple championships – and we are continually looking to grow and challenge the team.”
Each car features returning and new drivers for the three-driver race format. Álvaro Parente, who will be entering his fifth season in the No. 9, will be accompanied by two-year team veteran Andy Soucek and by Bentley Factory Driver Jordan Pepper. The two-year pairing of Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet return to the roster in the No. 3, with factory driver Jules Gounon completing the line-up.
K-PAX Racing, which has manufactured more than 50 wins and nearly 150 podiums over the course of 13 seasons stateside, will have a satellite shop located in Hellenthal, Germany – a central location to the tracks on the season schedule. The team will continue to use its current crew as support for its entire 2020 campaign.
“It has been a lot of work on the front end arranging a shop to work out of, planning the logistics and getting everything coordinated but everything is on track,” Law said. “Our driver line-up is extremely good, and our crew has the endurance background needed to compete at this level and Bentley has been an amazing partner in helping us to coordinate this effort.”
“We know it is going to be tough, the level of competition and the number of cars is different and will be a new challenge that we are not taking lightly but we are confident that we will be competitive and hope our U.S. fans will follow and support our new endeavor next season.”
K-PAX Racing Team Owner, Jim Haughey, said the decision aligns with his piqued interest in endurance racing. K-PAX Racing has predominantly competed under a sprint racing format in the series’ American branch, which last year featured 90-minute races using two drivers. The team has experience competing in endurance races, including the Sepang 12 Hours (2016) and California 8 Hours (2017, 2018).
“K-PAX Racing has been racing in the U.S. for a long time, and we have had many successes here,” Haughey said. “I have always had an interest in endurance racing and with the current status of GT World Challenge, we have the opportunity to go endurance racing at some of the most iconic tracks in Europe. I have always wanted to race at these tracks, with the strength of our team and our relationship with Bentley Motorsport is what is allowing us the opportunity to run two pro cars. The timing was just right to make the move in 2020.”
Shipment of both cars is scheduled for early-January. Thereon, the team will begin to prepare and test for the upcoming season. Two official series tests are currently scheduled – Circuit Paul Ricard (France) in March and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) in June ahead of its iconic 24-hour race.
Paul Williams, Bentley Director of Motorsport: “Since the team first raced a Bentley Continental GT3 in 2018, it was clear that K-PAX Racing was an extremely professional outfit. In two years, they have taken two championship titles with us; they’ve raced alongside Bentley Team M-Sport in California 8 Hours; supported our teams at the 24 Hours of Spa; and have become a pillar within our motorsport family. We are delighted to welcome this team of talented people over to Europe and we’re ready to support them in getting to know our iconic tracks. It won’t be easy to settle into GT World Challenge Europe, because it is extremely competitive, but K-PAX Racing has everything in place to represent us at the highest level and we have no doubt that they will impress.”
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder & CEO: “I am very happy to welcome K-PAX Racing to GT World Challenge Europe for the 2020 season. We know the team well from its successful participation in GT World Challenge America and I am sure that Jim Haughey and his organisation have all the ingredients required to make a strong impression during this new adventure. It is especially pleasing to see competitors moving between our regional GT World Challenge series. We have worked hard to provide a global platform and I am thrilled to see K-PAX Racing taking advantage of this opportunity while also retaining its presence at home.”
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m very happy to be back with the team for 2020 during such an important change coming to race in Europe. There are some big challenges ahead, but both myself and the team are used to having these big challenges and making the most of them. We are focused and Bentley is also helping a lot with more involvement and interaction with K-PAX Racing. I’m very happy to be part of the program, and I’m going to give my best as always to achieve the results we want.”
Andy Soucek – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m very excited for this new challenge in Europe with K-PAX Racing. After a successful 2019 in the U.S., winning the teams championship in and finishing second in the drivers’ standings, hopefully I can be very useful in their new European campaign. It will be new for the team, especially with a new endurance format that will require a lot of experience. The fact that we did 90-minute races last season – including refueling, and tire and driver changes – gives the team some sort of expertise on what to expect. Last season was good practice, and I think the team is ready for this new challenge.
Having four very experienced, European drivers who have been doing this Championship for years, will help a lot, both line ups are awesome, and I can’t wait to work with Álvaro again and share the car with Jordan. For me, I haven’t missed one series race in seven years and have the most consecutive starts of any driver currently – which is pretty cool to be honest. The car works well at all those tracks, and with our strong line-up, we’ll have a chance at some great results.
K-PAX Racing has always been toward the front in every championship it has competed in, and I believe this new challenge will serve as a statement as to how strong the team really is. I think the team will prove that its capable of winning against a lot more competitors at other tracks, between the competition and the new tracks, it will only motivate the them.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m really motivated and excited going into the 2020 season. Being a regular now in GTWC Europe, I’ve come to know what to expect. The championship is filled with some great top-class drivers and is extremely competitive. Although I’m entering the 2020 season in a very familiar environment, inside our Bentley Continental GT3, a lot will be new to me. Teaming up with K-PAX Racing for the first time is something I’m really looking forward too. The team has had some great success over in America, and I’m really excited to work with them in 2020. They will bring fresh, new ideas into this difficult championship and hopefully that could give us the edge in 2020.
I first met the team in 2018 at the California 8 Hours, and I was really impressed by them. They seem like a very motivated and hard-working bunch of guys who all seem to love what they do. I can clearly see why Bentley joined forces with them as one of their lead customer teams around the world and they have really flown the Bentley flag high over in America. With the strong working relationship with Bentley, coming over to Europe should make the transition much easier.
We have proven that our package is really competitive, picking up a Win in Paul Ricard and a podium to end off the season – ultimately finishing fourth in the championship. With that being said, the goal is quite clear amongst the team and Bentley, we want to fight for Overall championship honors in 2020.
Being a Factory driver for Bentley for the last two years has been something I’ve really enjoyed. Bentley is a small company which is something a really like, we have more of a family environment which allows us to all work closely together and that’s something I really like. I look forward to many more years of success as a Bentley Factory driver and hopefully be a part of the next chapter in Bentley’s successes.”
Rodrigo Baptista – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I am super proud to stay one more year with K-PAX Racing and now under a contract with them. It’s a well-recognized team with multiple wins, titles and history and I’m glad I am being part of that. I want to thank Jim Haughey, Darren Law and everyone working on the No. 3 as well my personal crew, the last two years we had a very successful season racing in the U.S. We have a new challenge ahead racing in Europe and I will be a 100 percent ready when the flag goes down in Monza. I know most of the tracks already, so this won’t be a problem at all. I am looking forward to 2020 and everything the new year will bring to us.
I want also to say thank you to Bentley Motorsport for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to drive for them in Spa and Kyalami. It’s a top-level brand with top level cars and I am proud to be one of their drivers wearing the Flying Spur badge.”
Max Soulet – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m very happy to be joining K-PAX Racing in this new chapter in the Endurance Cup. I know it will be hard work for them from America to Europe, but I’ve been working with the team for two years already in America with lots of success. I’m sure that with all the good people they have, we are going to fight very soon for the win. To be in the same car as Rodrigo [Baptista] and Jules [Gounon] is a winning car for sure. To have worked with Jules for a year already in the factory team and recently in Kyalami in the same car. He is fast and very easy to work with and to have two factory drivers in the team is only positive.”
Jules Gounon – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 – “I’m really happy and proud to be entering the 2020 GT World Challenge series with K-PAX Racing during their first year in the series in Europe. I’m also really looking forward to sharing the car with two mega teammates, Rodrigo [Baptista] and Maxime [Soulet].
My first impression of the team was from Maxime, telling me how professional K-PAX Racing is and also the amount of work, effort and passion they were putting into the season. K-PAX Racing has showed a really strong relationship with Bentley after winning a lot of races in the U.S., including the Team Championship.”
Source.K-PAX Racing/Photo. Gavin Baker