The elimination of an all-pro category in GT World Challenge America “sealed the deal” for K-PAX Racing to make the switch to European competition according to program manager Darren Law.
The California-based team announced on Wednesday it will contest SRO’s GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup with a pair of Bentley Continental GT3s, featuring a mix of Bentley factory drivers and K-PAX regulars.
Law said that its challenging season in GTWC America, marred by controversial decisions by series officials, did not directly result in the move, but rather the changing of the class structure for 2020, which will see Pro-Am, Am and Silver classes only.
“At the [SRO] banquet they announced there is no Pro class and it’s all Pro-Am,” Law told Sportscar365. “We want to compete in the top level with the pros.
“We had talked about going to Europe prior to the end of the season because Jim [Haughey, team owner] has been really interested in doing some endurance racing but that really sealed the deal for us.”
The five-race effort in Europe will be in addition to a return to GTWC America with a single Pro-Am class Bentley for Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne, a program that came together after its decision to take the core of the team overseas.
Law said it’s created a “bit of a challenge” logistically but nothing the team can’t handle.
“Logistically there’s no conflicts within the races but our issue is the prep work and all of that and the travel back and forth to Europe because we’re using our whole U.S. crew in Europe,” he said.
“There are a few guys, engineering, data and management that’s going to cross over and run both programs and we will have one or two crew guys that will cross over to the U.S. but we’ll have more of a dedicated, separate crew in the U.S.”
With its two Bentleys and other gear already en route to Europe via sea-freight, Law said they will be utilizing a combination of leased and already-owned equipment for the Endurance Cup season, which kicks off at Monza in April.
K-PAX has secured a satellite base in Hellenthal, Germany, which is near both the Nürburgring and Spa, which Law said serves as a good central location for the team.
He has also credited Bentley for being “very supportive” in what will result in an increased level of trackside support from the British manufacturer this year.
“Bentley is going to have more of a presence of on-site, trackside support and of course they’re going to help support some of our needs to bring everything over to Europe,” Law said. “They’ve been very good in helping put this together for us.”
Law said they are not underestimating the challenge they will be up against, in arguably the most competitive GT3 championship in the world.
“We’re all excited to take the challenge over to Europe,” he said. “For sure it’s going to be a lot tougher than what we’re used to. We have a bit of a learning curve.
“But all of our drivers have been racing over there, so it’s not like we’re going in with an unfamiliar program.”
Second Car for 24H Spa Undetermined
Law said it’s currently unclear if K-PAX will field its second Bentley for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, as its regular-season crew of Maxime Soulet, Jordan Pepper and Jules Gounon will be in one of the factory M-Sport entries for the race, which doubles as a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.
“We’re unsure on that one,” he said. “We have our three K-PAX guys: Alvaro, Rodrigo and Andy, and those guys will stay in a car for sure [for the full season].
“We are trying to run two [cars for Spa] and we’ve been talking to Bentley and Jim but it’s up in the air right now.”