Maxime Soulet and Rodrigo Baptista took victory in Saturday’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America race at Circuit of The Americas as the K-PAX Racing Bentley team scored a dominant 1-2.
Baptista ran second during the opening stint behind pole-sitter Andy Soucek in the sister Bentley Continental GT3, but the Brazilian’s No. 3 car vaulted ahead during the mid-race pit cycle.
Soulet made up time when Soucek’s co-driver Alvaro Parente hit traffic and went on to lead the second half of the 90-minute race, which was broken up by an early red flag.
Parente dived underneath his teammate heading into the Turn 15-16 double left-hander but couldn’t find a way past, with the gap extending to 4.5 seconds at the finish.
The result marks the first victory for Bentley’s second-generation Continental package, which debuted last year, and K-PAX Racing’s first 1-2 result under the two-driver SprintX format.
Scott Hargrove and Patrick Long picked up the final podium spot with their Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, finishing 33 seconds behind the Bentleys.
Long chased the R.Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Miguel Molina in the opening stint but the pair switched positions during the driver swaps.
Molina’s co-driver and fellow reigning champion Toni Vilander came through in fourth, while Jeff Segal took fifth in the Pro-Am class-winning TR3 Racing Ferrari started by Wei Lu.
The Wright and R.Ferri cars had been locked in a close battle with the two Pro-class Alegra Motorsports Porsches which dropped off the trail after a coming together.
Wolf Henzler got loose exiting Turn 1 and clipped the rear side of his teammate Michael de Quesada, sending the former into retirement.
De Quesada carried on but he and Daniel Morad were forced to serve a pair of drive-through penalties for overstepping track limits.
Their surviving No. 22 Alegra Porsche finished 11th, while Pro-Am runner-up Dennis Olsen moved up to sixth overall in the second Wright Motorsports Porsche.
Kyle Marcelli came home seventh in the Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3, fending off the charging P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maximilian Buhk.
In the Am class, Caesar Bacarella and Martin Fuentes commanded proceedings with their Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari.
Saturday’s race was red flagged for 27 minutes early on when David Askew crashed the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes after losing control through the Esses.
Race 2 gets underway Sunday at 2:15 p.m. CT.
RESULTS: Race 1