The K-PAX Racing team made an impressive return to the Pirelli World Challenge Friday at Circuit of The Americas in the Grand Prix of Texas practice rounds following the massive incident two weeks ago with 2016 GT champion Alvaro Parente in the streets of St. Petersburg.
After the Parente accident in Turn 10 in the Round 2 50-minute sprint event, the K-PAX crew prepared the backup No. 9 Opti-Coat Bentley Continental GT3 for Parente and Bentley factory driver Andy Soucek for the GT SprintX doubleheader set for Saturday and Sunday at the 3.427-mile, 20-turn road circuit southeast of Austin.
In Friday’s practice runs, Soucek recorded the quickest GT SprintX lap time with a clocking of 2m6.463s in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 for an average speed of 97.6 miles per hour. It was a spectacular comeback from a nasty crash which saw Parente walk away from the incident.
“It’s a good feeling to go back to the hotel tonight with the best lap of the day,” said Soucek. “The Bentley felt really good this morning on new tires. The car felt pretty good later on the used tires too. So, race pace shouldn’t be too bad. We will make a few adjustments for qualifying and Alvaro is going to qualify the car Saturday morning (10:15 a.m. CT). We found a setup that suits us pretty well. I think we start in a good position for Saturday’s race.”
St. Petersburg pole winner Toni Vilander, who is teaming with Miguel Molina of Spain, took the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 to second position Friday with a 2:06.859 time for a speed of 97.3mph followed by Belgium’s Mathieu Jaminet, paired with Alec Udell, in the No. 41 LOCI/HKG Racing/GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (991) at 2:06.874 (97.3mph).
Rounding out the top five were the pair of Mike Skeen and Scott Heckert in the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 at 2m07.049s (97.2mph) and the duo of Daniel Morad and Fabian Schiller in the No. 2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 at 2m07.247s (97.0mph).
Leading the Pro-Am class Friday was the No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 with Jeff Segal and Wei Lu driving to a best lap of 2m07.367s (96.9mph).
Topping the Am-Am division was the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3 of Martin Fuentes and Caesar Bacarella at 2m09.210s (95.5mph).
Qualifying for the GT SprintX class will be at 10:15 a.m. CT Saturday with Round 1 60-minute, two-driver race set for 3:45 p.m. CT. Round 2 will take place at 2:10 p.m.