K-PAX Racing’s driver duo of Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente won the opening Blancpain GT World Challenge America GT race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s been a great weekend so far, two poles and now this domination during the race,” said Parente. “The car is working well, it’s a bit different than what we expected actually, we thought we were going to struggle a bit more in Turn 12. It’s not the strongest area on the track for our car but everything else is working well.
“Congratulations to the team, they were incredible on the pitstop and Andy (Soucek) is driving super well also. We will see what happens this evening for Race 2.”
R. Ferri Motorsport’s Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina finished second. A post race Stewarts’ decision has RealTime Racing’s Mike Hedlund and Dane Cameron winning the Pro/Am category race. The series closes out its 2019 season Saturday, October 19 – the weekend is sponsored by R.U.N – The First Live Action Thriller Produced by Cirque du Soleil.
Pole sitter Soucek in the #9 Bentley Continental GT3 led the field to the green flag. Second-on-the-grid Scott Hargrove in the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R drag raced with Soucek at the drop of the green and slid past running wide through the exit of Turn 8 and up into the lead. Vilander, in the R. Ferri Motorsport #61 Ferrari 488 GT3 also moved by Soucek up into second.
Through the opening lap Hargrove led Vilander and Soucek. By lap 2 Soucek began pressuring Vilander for second and through Turn 3 executed a pass for position. Meanwhile, Race Control issued a review of Hargrove’s pass for the lead on the start and shortly after issued a track limit infraction ruling that Hargrove would need to give the spot back to Soucek.
On lap six, Hargrove moved over on the back straight allowing Soucek to assume the lead. Behind them, Wright Motorsports’ Anthony Imperato in his #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R slotted into fifth overall and first in the Pro/Am category. Fellow class competitor Gradient Racing’s Till Bechtolsheimer in the #5 Acura NSX slotted in 7th overall and second in class, while Martin Barkey, the Driver’s Championship points leader coming into the weekend slotted into ninth overall and third in class in his #80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX. RealTime Racing’s Hedlund slotted into fifth in the class in his #43 Acura NSX. Naoto Takeda in the lone Am division entry behind the wheel of the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW F13 M6 GT3 ran in 12th overall and first in the category.
Nearing the pit window with 50-minutes remaining in the race, Soucek gapped Hargrove by close to four seconds. With the pit window open, Barkey brought his #80 machine in first, followed by class leader Imperato. In the Pro division, Vilander was the first of the overall leaders into the pit, followed by Hargrove. Soucek remained out on track and entered to change over to Parente just before the close of the pit window.
As Parente moved down pit lane to re-enter the race, Long came down the front straight. Parente though was able to re-enter the race ahead of Long with Molina, who had taken over for Vilander slotting into third, and K-PAX Racing’s Maxime Soulet in the #3 Bentley Continental GT3 in fourth overall.
In Pro Am, Gradient Racing’s Marc Miller in the #5 Acura NSX assumed the lead after the pit window closed, with Matt Campbell who had taken the reins from Imperato in the #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R now in second. Cameron who took over duties from Hedlund in the #43 Acura NSX had moved up into third in class while Kyle Marcelli, who had taken over for Barkey sat in fifth in the class in the #80 machine.
While Parente built a 6.5 second lead over Long at the head of the field by lap 32, Miller, Campbell and Cameron began a furious battle behind them for the lead in Pro/Am. Then on lap 39 contact between the Pro/Am leaders dropped Miller back and Campbell assumed the lead with Cameron now up into second. Parente continued to build his lead up front to 7.2 seconds. By Lap 42, Campbell continued to lead in Pro/Am with Cameron, Miller and Marcelli who was up into fourth in the category pursuing the class leader.
On the white flag lap, Long slowed because of a right rear tyre issue, allowing Molina to move into second. At the checkered, Parente crossed the line ahead of Molina by 8.4 seconds. Campbell crossed the line in first in the Pro/Am category.
A post race Stewarts’ decision penalized both the #91 car by 22 seconds and the #80 car by 40 seconds for contact during the race, moving the RealTime Racing team of Hedlund and Cameron into the race win in Pro/Am. Barkey and Marcelli finished sixth in Pro/Am. Provisionally, Ferrari leads Bentley by 10 points in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship, while R. Ferri Motorsport leads K-PAX Racing by seven points. In the Pro/Am class RealTime Racing leads Racers Edge Motorsports by 15 points in the battle for the division Team Championship.
Blancpain GT World Challenge America drivers now get set for the final race of the season, tonight at 7:30 pm PDT.