Team extends season streak to five-straight podium performances
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Heading into the Pirelli World Challenge’s (PWC) third event of the 2018 season, K-PAX Racing had been represented on the podium in each of the first four races on the series’ schedule. In the third round of PWC Sprint GT competition Sunday, team driver Álvaro Parente extended the streak in the 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to five with a third-place finish.
K-PAX Racing made its 12th appearance in one of North America’s most premier street racing events and this year, it featured two Bentley Continental GT3 cars in the “Roar by the Shore.” Parente, a two-time event winner, started ninth on the grid (seventh in GT) and teammate Rodrigo Baptista qualified beside him in tenth (third in GTA). Baptista, making his debut at Long Beach, shared the fifth row on the grid with Parente and the two were set to battle the field on the 11-turn, 1.968 course.
“To come away from Long Beach unscathed and on the podium is a great run for us,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “We struggled a little bit in the beginning of the weekend, and we didn’t have the best qualifiers. But, the cars had good pace during the race and Álvaro did a nice job.”
In the 50-minute showdown through the streets of downtown Long Beach, Parente’s No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 made an early-break toward the front. Parente was not only given the Optima Batteries “Best Start of the Race” award for his solid start, but also maintained his swiftness to be considered the VP Racing Fuels “Hard Charger.” Parente passed the most cars in the field, climbing three spots in the opening lap and picking up the other three positions in the second-half of the race.
“Unfortunately, we tried a few things earlier in the weekend that we thought were going to work in terms of setup and they didn’t,” Parente said. “We really didn’t really have the pace to be up there. Luckily, we had a good start and first lap, and we didn’t make any mistakes like some others did.”
“[The podium finish] is great after the start we’ve had this year. You have to stay on track and not make any mistakes, and we were quite fortunate to be one of the cars that did not have a penalty or be involved in any contact. We were able to take advantage of that. I knew our pace here was going to make it difficult, and I wish we had more of it today. You have to be there in the end, and that’s what we did today.”
The third-place finish marks Parente’s third-consecutive podium at Long Beach, which includes two wins from 2016-17. Law added that the team is very proud to have reached the feat with two different manufacturers (McLaren GT, Bentley).
“Long Beach is a place I love,” Parente said. “It’s a great place and I love the layout of the track. This place has been good to me over the years. Three years on the podium here with two wins is great.”
Baptista had a similarly strong performance in terms of pace. Within the first 10 minutes of the race, Baptista moved up the GTA ladder to second-place and continued his surge to the top-spot. During a full-course yellow shortly after however, the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 was forced to make a pit-stop because of a puncture in the right-rear tire.
“We’re very proud of Rodrigo,” Law said. “He had a great drive and had pace. It’s unfortunate that he had a flat and had to come in and make a stop for a tire change. If he didn’t have that happen, then I think he would’ve been right there with Álvaro.”
Baptista reentered the track at the caboose of the field, and on the restart focused on catching the GTA field to recoup some points. Notably, Baptista recorded the fastest lap in his class with a 1:19.386, which was seven-tenths quicker than the average best-lap from the rest of the GTA field.
“I had to pit for the tire, and we lost the race there,” Baptista said. “After the pit-stop, I went back onto the track, did a very good lap and kept a fast pace. The crew did a fast pit-stop so I could get out there and catch the guys. I wish I could have done more for all the guys at K-PAX Racing.”
The team will return to a two-driver format April 27-29 for PWC SprintX action at VIRginia International Raceway. For more information about the PWC Grand Prix of Virginia Presented by Audi Sport, visit world-challenge.com.
Álvaro Parente – No. 9 Bentley Continental GT3 (3rd) – “It feels really good to come here. I love this track. Today, we were lucky but at the same time it was hard to keep the car on the track and we did. I was fighting a lot because the track was very low-grip, but we didn’t make any mistakes that some of the others did and finished third. We’re looking forward to the next track and seeing what we can do there.”
Rodrigo Baptista (GTA) – No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 (6th) – “I think the race was going better than we expected. The car wasn’t as easy to drive, but the pace was still good. I was in second with good pace, and I think we could have finished first in our class with the car we had.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 112 podiums, 44 wins, four Driver Championships and three Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class K-PAX 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.
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, Brian Gush 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.
Optimum Polymer Technologies, the manufacturer of Opti-Coat, was founded in Memphis, Tenn., on July 1, 2001 by Dr. David Ghodoussi. Prior to this, Dr. Ghodoussi worked for over 12 years as an Organic Chemist overseeing research and development focused in polymers and automotive paint formulations.
For more than a decade, Opti-Coat has been setting the industry standard with their unique coating technologies developing and manufacturing proprietary resins utilizing Silicon Carbide (SiC) chemistry. Opti-Coat’s purpose is to provide clients with a product that is the most durable, innovative and protective coating available.