Andy Soucek believes K-PAX Racing “deserved” to win both season-ending races in Las Vegas and the Blancpain GT World Challenge America teams’ title after missing out on the drivers’ crown.
Soucek and Parente dominated both races on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway roval, while the K-PAX team’s 1-2 finish on Saturday night confirmed it as the teams’ champion.
This came despite Ferrari wrapping up the manufacturers’ title, and R. Ferri Motorsport’s Toni Vilander clinching the drivers’ championship prior to the final weekend.
“We didn’t know if Vegas was going to suit our car, because it was the first time for everybody here,” Soucek told Sportscar365.
“But as the track rubbered in, we felt that the car had more and more performance. We could then enjoy two pole positions, two wins and one fastest lap.
“The competition was very strong with the Ferrari, with a very good line-up and they just made zero mistakes. I think that’s what made them win the [drivers’] championship.
“We had those two races in Road America and VIR where we didn’t finish, and those cost us too many points.
“It was a bit of a shame because normally in a championship, someone has some kind of mistake or failure, but I think they finished every single race within the top three or four.
“But I’m very pleased, to be honest, to finish the season how we did. I think K-PAX deserves to finish it like this because they’re a good bunch of people and I only have good words for them.”
K-PAX Racing team principal Darren Law described his team’s double victory as a “good way to end the season” despite it missing out on the drivers’ championship.
“Obviously it’s not as sweet [as the drivers’ championship] but that was one of the goals this weekend,” he said.
“We knew we didn’t have [a chance] of the drivers’ title and we had to get the team or manufacturers.
“This weekend was really perfect execution from our program. Pit stops, prep, pole, wins, podiums, wins. It’s a good way to end the season.”
Parente, meanwhile, pinpointed two episodes in the season that enabled Vilander to get the edge on the No. 9 K-PAX crew in the final drivers’ standings.
“I think there were two key moments,” said the Portuguese driver. “The fire in Virginia, when we could have been first or second, and then the Road America situation.
“Not having enough fuel to finish the race when we were second, which would have brought the drivers’ title decision [to Las Vegas].
“But we’ve had a great year. We just missed the drivers’ title, but it’s great because the guys all deserved the teams’ [title].”
Ferrari’s Molina: Turn 1 Move Was Fair
R. Ferri driver Miguel Molina initially believed he was within the white lines when he overtook Soucek at the start of Saturday’s race, only to be forced to hand the lead back.
The Spaniard shot around the outside of Soucek, who had the inside line into the tight opening left-hander, but exceeded track limits as the pair went side-by-side through the immediate right-handed second turn after the green flag.
Race officials subsequently told Molina to let the Bentley through, while the teams’ championship was later decided when the Ferrari driver skidded past his pit marker, causing a delay of 10 seconds which enabled the No. 3 K-PAX car to get ahead.
“I would like to see the video for the start because I could not see if the car was out or in,” Molina told Sportscar365 after the checkered flag.
“The corner was so tight and for sure, Alvaro tried to open the line a bit in Turn 1. But he was fair.
“From the cockpit, I could not tell in the darkness – it was difficult to see where I was. If I was out, it was only by an inch but from the inside, I would say that I was in.
“But at the end, it doesn’t matter. Our pace was not fantastic against the Bentleys, but we tried everything, and I am proud that we took two championships out of three.”