Will field the first-generation Bentley Continental GT3 in its final outing
SALINAS, Calif. – The longest race in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s 61-year history will be a short-traveled one for K-PAX Racing, as the Sonoma, Calif. based team will field one of its Bentley Continental GT3s in the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) California 8 Hours from Oct. 26-28. There, it will seek its second-consecutive top-three finish in the only endurance race it will enter in 2018 – its first with Bentley.
“This is going to be a tough race,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “The competition is fierce, these are some of the best GT3 teams from around the world and all of them have stellar driver line ups. Based on our experience in both the Sepang 12 Hour and the eight-hour last season here we are ready and look forward to showing what we are capable of.”
In the inaugural California 8 Hours last season, K-PAX Racing was one of three cars to finish on the lead lap – turning 314 laps around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course to a third-place finish. The only IGTC round in the United States will be the central stop for some of the world’s most competitive sports car racing teams, and the series’ second running of the event will feature nearly double the field. K-PAX Racing will be one of the 35 total entrants for the race, which is a significant increase from the 19 participants last season.
While K-PAX Racing will have one of its final firsts with the first-generation model, Bentley Motorsport will have one of its lasts. K-PAX Racing will be the final Bentley customer works supported team to compete in the current model, with plans to eventually upgrade to the manufacturers’ second-generation Continental GT3.
To commemorate such a monumental event for both K-PAX Racing and Bentley, the team’s Continental GT3 will feature a special livery. Sporting a British racing green – reminiscent of Bentley’s historic 2003 Le Mans winning color scheme – the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 livery embodies some of the many milestones of both the team and manufacturer, which includes Bentley’s continued pursuit of success in America and celebration of its 100-year anniversary in 2019.
“I can’t wait to see this livery going by on track,” Law said. “We worked closely with Bentley on the design and are really proud of how it turned out. It is always a back and forth process when coming up with a design for race cars, but this incorporates styling cues from both Bentley and our team, and we are really happy with how it turned out.”
In preparation for the event, newly-crowned IMSA GTD Champion Bryan Sellers will look to extend his success into another series with K-PAX Racing. Sellers, who competed full-time with the team in 2017 – including the California 8 Hours – will add the Continental GT3 to his extensive list of GT3-spec cars he has competed in through his career. Sellers said he enjoys the challenge of a new car and looks forward to having the opportunity of “sending it off on a high note.”
To acclimate himself to a new car, Sellers tested with K-PAX Racing in September at Sonoma Raceway. Sellers was accompanied by new teammate Rodrigo Baptista, who will be making his track debut with a car he has grown comfortable driving throughout the 2018 race season.
“It was important for us to make sure we got Bryan some time in this car prior to the race weekend,” Law said. “During a race weekend, time is limited, and you have a different focus. The Bentley is different than what he has been racing this season. We needed to get him fitted to the car and this was an environment without any pressure. We were able to run him all day and also run through setup change to give him a feel for how the adjustments affect the car.”
“We had Rodrigo join us for this test which was a good benchmark. Bryan and Rodrigo have met before but not raced together on a team, so it was also good for them to work together for a day. As expected Bryan was up to speed quickly. We have a great driver line up and are looking forward to the event next week.”
As for three-year team driver Álvaro Parente, he will be returning to a track where he captured his first American championship. Parente jumped to the top-spot from third on the race’s final lap, ultimately winning the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Drivers Championship by a 28-point margin. Before entering the series under the K-PAX Racing Banner, Laguna Seca had been the only track Parente had seen previously.
The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge season was an opportunity for both Baptista and Parente to learn the Continental GT3, helping K-PAX Racing earn the Sprint GT Teams Championship with 10 wins and 18 podiums in 10 events.
For Sunday’s eight-hour race, K-PAX Racing will host families from Family House San Francisco, offering its families of children with pediatric cancer and life-threatening illnesses a behind-the-scenes experience of the sports car racing world. K-PAX Racing officially announced its support for Family House in May 2017, entering the race against pediatric cancer.