Maxime Soulet and Rodrigo Baptista rebounded from their retirement in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday, with a victory in Sunday’s Race 2 at VIR.
A big win for the duo in their #3 Bentley Continental GT3 marked a huge result for them and the K-PAX Racing team, handing it a sweep of the weekend after the sister car won the opener.
The win was set up after a rapid pit stop from the K-PAX Racing crew sent Baptista in the #3 Bentley Continental GT3 out into the race lead after Soulet ran solidly in the top five during the opening stint of the race.
Baptista then pulled away, taking the checkered flag 10 seconds ahead of Patrick Long in the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R after 90 minutes of green flag, un-interrupted racing.
While a second place finish is strong, it looked like Wright Motorsport may win Race 1 early on. Long’s teammate Scott Hargrove took an early lead in the #58 Wright Porsche with a gutsy move on pole-sitter Andy Soucek in the race 1-winning #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 heading into the first turn.
Hargrove controlled the field in the opening stanza but Soucek kept himself right on the Canadian’s tail in a bid to get past.
Unfortunately, though Soucek’s charge would fall short after a left-rear puncture sent the Bentley spinning off at the final corner. He managed to avoid hitting the barriers but was forced to make an unscheduled stop for a tyre change.
Hargrove pitted shortly after that as soon as the official window opened, handing over to Long who emerged behind Baptista and Miguel Molina (#61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3) in the lead queue.
This set up a thrilling chase to the finish with Baptista trying to scamper away as Long and Molina duked hard for second place.
Molina was then forced to make an unscheduled stop of his own when his 488 GT3, like Soucek’s Bentley, suffered a left-rear puncture.
The Ferrari factory driver recovered in the final half-hour and worked his way back into the top five before chasing down Daniel Morad in the #22 Alegra Motorsports Porsche started by Michael de Quesada.
As the pair worked their way past Bret Curtis, this duel became the fight for the final podium spot. After repeated attempts, Molina eventually found a gap and completed a crucial pass on Morad on the final lap to cap off the R. Ferri recovery with a top-three result as Baptista and Long finished further up the road.
“It’s really good,” said a jubilant Baptista after the race. “This is for the team; they did a great job yesterday after the crash. I thank them for the pit stop and I just brought the car home.”
However, after the race the R. Ferri Ferrari was penalised and handed a five-second time penalty, dropping the car to fifth overall. This meant the #24 Alegra Porsche was eventually classified third, ahead of the sister #22 911 GT3 R in fourth.
The Pro-Am winner ended up sixth. Curtis, who shared the #43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 with Dane Cameron, kept calm with the Pro-class runners bearing down on him to finish first in class.
Cameron took the class lead with a thrilling dive underneath Ryan Dalziel (#63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) into the ‘Rollercoaster’ section on lap one before handing over to Curtis, who came out of the pits in the thick of the overall podium scrap.
DXDT Racing’s sister Mercedes driven by Colin Braun and George Kurtz finished second after the order shuffled around in the pit cycle.
The Pro-Am podium was completed by Anthony Imperato and Matt Campbell in the #91 Wright Motorsports Porsche.
Am honours went to Caeser Bacarella and Martin Fuentes after another perfect performance in their #7 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3.
Photo courtesy of World Challenge