K-PAX Racing has added Rodrigo Baptista to its roster full-time for the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season.
Baptista, who formerly competed in the series’ GTS category, will join the competitive Sprint GTA class in the team’s second car alongside Álvaro Parente in the team’s strong push for a championship title.
“The addition of Rodrigo will help us bring the fight for the title in 2018,” K-PAX Racing team owner Jim Haughey said. “We’re pleased to have two very skilled drivers full-time with us this season, and we look forward to another hard-fought year in the Pirelli World Challenge.”
Baptista, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, made his first full transition into the U.S. racing scene last season in the PWC GTS class. Baptista emerged as a rising star, capturing four wins and six podiums in a breakout season.
“[The GTA class is] a new challenge for me,” Baptista said. “The field is full of great drivers and manufacturers, and I will do my best to perform the way I want it to go. There will be a lot of learning with the team, the car and the series on the GT3 side. Now with some knowledge of the tracks from this year in GTS, I look forward to trying to clinch the GTA class title in 2018 and will fight for it.”
K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said Baptista had shown his racing prowess and maturity on the track, proving that he can compete in the series’ highest level.
“Rodrigo is still young but after working with him all last year, I see a lot of the same qualities [as Parente],” Law said. “He has been a quick study and progressed extremely well last season. He has an honest shot at a championship and he couldn’t have a better mentor to work alongside than Álvaro. K-PAX has a great racing history with several championships and I look forward to adding more with this great driver pairing and our move to the Bentley program.”
On a fast-track to stardom, Baptista shared his time in PWC this past season with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in Brazil. Notably, the 21-year-old won the 2017 series championship in his first full year in the series. His championship run included eight wins and 11 podiums. In 2016, Baptista competed in the Blancpain GT Series, where he and Parente started their relationship.
Parente said he looks forward to working with Baptista, as he brings a lot of raw talent to the K-PAX Racing roster.
“We speak the same language, so communication will be easy,” Parente said jokingly. “He’s a good kid. He’s already a talent, so we’ll see what he can do with these GT3 cars.”
Baptista will be tasked with harnessing the power of the Bentley Continental GT3. Baptista said that he is excited for the opportunity with an elite team.
“I am very excited with this great opportunity,” Baptista said. “Driving for K-PAX Racing – a team with a long history of success – will be a big responsibility for me, but I am ready to do it. I can’t wait until the very first tests to join with the team. It will be a pleasure to be Álvaro’s teammate, and I look forward to learning from an experienced and quick driver like him.”
“[The Continental GT] is a dream machine with a huge amount of power. It’s an honor for me to drive a Bentley, and they can count on me to grow the Bentley’s motorsport-side in the U.S.”
K-PAX Racing will announce its full driver line-up of the 2018 race season at a later date.