Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet have given K-PAX Racing its first victory of the Pirelli World Challenge season and maiden win with Bentley in Saturday’s SprintX round at Virginia International Raceway.
Soulet took the No. 3 Bentley Continental GT3 to a commanding 19.474-second win over Miguel Molina in the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, in a rough-and-tumble 60-minute race for GT competitors.
The Bentley factory driver inherited the lead from Baptista, who overtook the pole-sitting No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Daniel Morad for the overall lead, on Lap 10 before stretching his advantage until the mid-race pit stop and driver change.
A slow pit stop for the CRP crew, due to an issue with the left-front wheelnut, dropped the Mercedes from second to fifth, and gave clear sailing for Soulet.
It marked both Baptista and Soulet’s first career PWC GT victories, with the car also taking Pro-Am class honors.
Another perfectly timed pit stop put the SprintX championship-leading Ferrari pairing of Molina and Toni Vilander into second, with Wolf Henzler third in the No. 96 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Corey Lewis finished fourth in the No. 41 GMG Racing Porsche, thanks to late-race contact between Fabian Schiller and Spencer Pumpelly while battling for position.
Schiller was assessed a drive-through penalty for the contact with five minutes to go, adding to the team’s incident-filled race.
Pumpelly, meanwhile, rebounded to a top-five finish in the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche, followed by the Ryan Dalziel and Parker Chase-driven No. 19 TruSpeed Autosport Audi R8 LMS, which finished second in GT Pro-Am.
The CRP Mercedes finished 8th, behind the No. 55 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Alessandro Bressan and Yuki Harata.
GT Am class honors, meanwhile, went to the No. 07 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari of Martin Fuentes and Caeser Bacarella, marking Fuentes’ fifth win of the season between Sprint and SprintX competition.
It was a bitter-sweet day for K-PAX, which lost its No. 9 Bentley due to a opening lap accident after the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes of Mike Skeen made contact with Alvaro Parente, sending the Portuguese ace hard into the wall.
It resulted in the race’s only full-course caution.
Soulet will start tomorrow’s second race of the weekend from the pole, which is scheduled to get underway at 11:30 a.m. EDT.
RESULTS: Race 1