The K-PAX Racing Bentley driving duo Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente won Round 14, the final race of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America season on Saturday evening at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, completing a sweep of both race victories on the finale weekend.
Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander finished third overall, clinching the manufacturers’ title for Ferrari, while K-PAX Racing took the 2019 team championship title.
Martin Fuentes and Renger van der Zande won in Pro/Am, while Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron finished second in the category to clinch the Team Championship for RealTime Racing. Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli finished fourth in Pro/Am, clinching the division’s Driver’s Championship.
The race weekend was sponsored by R.U.N – the First Live Action Thriller produced by Cirque du Soleil.
Parente, driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3, led the field to the green from pole, but second-on-the-grid Molina (R. Ferri Motorsport No.61 Ferrari 488 GT3) won the drag race to the first turn and led the first lap as Parente slotted into second, and Maxime Soulet (No. 3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3) held third.
Cameron, at the wheel of the No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX, topped the Pro/Am class in fifth overall, while Wright Motorsports’ Matt Campbell (No. 91 Porsche 911 GT3 R (991)) slotted into second in the category.
Marcelli, driving the No. 80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX sat ninth overall, fifth in Pro/Am, after the first lap.
Running in 12th overall, Takuya Shairasaka led the Am division in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3.
On Lap 2, Molina extended his lead to 1.1 seconds over Parente. But on Lap 9, Race Control, after reviewing the start of the race, ruled that Molina had run wide to take the lead and directed him to give the position back to Parente.
On Lap 11, Molina slowed down the front straight to give the position and the race lead to Parente.
So the order on Lap 12 was Parente leading Molina by .923 seconds, Soulet in third, and Patrick Long (No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (991)) in fourth.
Soon, though, Long pulled his Porsche off course after encountering a mechanical issue.
The Pro/am battle heated up by Lap 24 as Cameron battled side by side with Campbell through Turn 7, the driver of the No. 43 machine defending well to hold off the challenge and maintain his position.
With 50 minutes remaining in race and the pit window open, Soulet came into the pits first to change over to teammate Rodrigo Baptista. Parente also entered the pits to pass the reins to Soucek, while Molina stayed out to maximize track position.
Near the end of the pit window, both Molina and Campbell roared in. With Molina handing over to teammate Vilander, the R. Ferri Motorsport team struggled to refuel the No. 61 machine because the car had stopped slightly forward of the fuel rig. The extended pit stop allowed both Soucek and Baptista to gain valuable track position.
With the pit window closed, Vilander’s Ferrari was some distance back but in hot pursuit of the leading K-PAX Bentleys.
On Lap 48, Hedlund, now behind the wheel of the No. 43 Acura, slowed on the front straight with a possible mechanical issue, allowing Fuentes, in the No. 7 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, to pass for the Pro/Am lead and fourth overall in the race. Hedlund’s machine would regain power, though, and he slotted into second in the category, with Wright Motorsports’ Anthony Imperato’s No. 91 Porsche third and Barkey, now in the No. 80 Acura, fourth in class.
The leaders held station for the remainder of the race, with Soucek (Parente) winning over teammates Baptista (Soulet) by 6.4 seconds. Vilander (Molina) finished third, Fuentes (Renger Van der Zande) fourth overall and first in Pro/Am, with Hedlund (Cameron) and Imperato (Campbell) second and third respectively.
“Summary of the season? Twelve podiums out of 14 races, I think. Four wins, seven pole positions, mega pitstops from the team,” said Soucek. “With those numbers, we should be the champions. But I have to say the R. Ferri guys did a very good job and to win the Manufacturers championship with the results that we (collected) was not easy. I think if it wasn’t for the pit stop at VIR where we caught fire and this last race where we had the issue at the end, we would’ve been in contention and could have maybe won it with these last two wins.
“But anyway, reality is we are P2 in the driver championship but at least we won the team title which is great because K-PAX is fantastic — the best team in the series. Well deserved for the boys. Mega pit stops all year long, and to finish the season with two pole positions, two wins and one fastest lap, is only the proof of all of the hard work we’ve put in this year. I’m happy for Bentley as well to score these wins and finish this season on a high.”
The champions now look forward to Sunday evening and the year-end Awards Celebration at The Bellagio. Watch the races from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. EDT.