K-PAX Racing’s Andy Soucek has lashed out at SRO Motorsports America officials following a called-off full-course caution that ultimately cost the Spaniard and co-driver Alvaro Parente a chance of taking the Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship battle down to the last event.
The Bentley factory driver has provisionally finished third in Sunday’s second race at Road America after the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Serra passed both K-PAX Bentleys during a safety car period that was apparently rescinded by officials with 10 minutes to go.
The runner-up finish for Serra and co-driver Toni Vilander was enough for the Finn to provisionally clinch the Pro championship ahead of next month’s season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Soucek told Sportscar365 that he was told since the beginning of the season that a full-course caution “always” turns into a safety car procedure, which didn’t occur on Sunday.
“It was shown on TV that there was a safety car and race direction said there was a safety car,” Soucek told Sportscar365.
“There were yellow flags being waved. Nobody respected the 80 km/h and… when I looked in the mirror, I had everybody behind me, stuck behind me in a bunch of cars.
“That’s the first thing I don’t understand because I was trying to leave the same gap to the car ahead. That’s the FCY rule.
“But here because nobody has buttons to limit the car to 80 km/h, it’s open. So everybody knew there was a safety car coming.
“All of a sudden the next thing I know, Daniel Serra just went for it when there was a yellow flag being waved on my side.
“I didn’t know what the hell was going on.
“In that moment, I realized maybe they gave a green flag or whatever. I didn’t know what was going on. I went after that but it was too late because I lost two places.
“Even Rodrigo [Baptista] passed me because he saw that Daniel went on power. We didn’t know what was going on.”
Serra said post-race that there was “suddenly” a green and he felt free to make the pass.
“We were on full course yellow procedure and suddenly it was green and there was no safety car and I pushed,” the Brazilian said. “I was able to overtake both Bentleys.”
K-PAX program manager Darren Law confirmed to Sportscar365 that the team is protesting the yellow flag procedure, which appears to have been done in error.
SRO has yet to make any comment to Sportscar365 regarding the yellow flag incident.
“It’s nonsense,” Soucek said. “I’m a good loser if they’re doing a better job than us, I always say congrats. If we don’t have the pace, I’ll always say, look we struggled.
“But in this case, I think it’s a robbery. It’s something that should not happen at this level of competition. We’re professionals, we’re not here to play around.
“It’s not that we lost the championship, that’s not the fact.
“The fact is how can you allow this to happen in professional racing? Am I stupid? Have I never done a Full Course Yellow in my life? I’ve been racing seven years in Blancpain GT.”
Hedlund Was Expecting Safety Car
Overall race winner Mike Hedlund said he was expecting a safety car when race officials called the yellow flag.
“I heard a car off in [Turn] 11. Then 15 seconds later they said Full Course Yellow, so I slowed down to 80 km/h and started weaving because I figured it would be quick to get the race going,” Hedlund told Sportscar365.
“It must have been ten seconds later, going down the back straight weaving and I hear, ‘Green, Green, Green’ on the radio and I just floored it. I almost crashed because I was still weaving.
“I took off expecting a big truckload of cars to catch me because they were going full speed. But as far as I could tell, the gap maintained the same but then one lap later I saw the red Ferrari and I was like, ‘Where did he come from?’
“I was expecting a safety car that’s why I slowed down to safety car speeds so it was easy for them to catch up to me.”