K-PAX Racing entered the fifth and sixth rounds of Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS having proved that VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) is not only a beloved North American racing jewel for race-enthusiasts worldwide, but it has also been a golden treasure-trove for the team over the last decade. In its fifth appearance, the team added another trophy to its case from VIR, earning the victory and extending a streak of near perfection through its championship campaign.
“Five out of five for the team, which is phenomenal,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “It’s been a really great start to the season. We still have a ways to go, but we’re earning points toward the championship. I’m so happy for Jordan [Pepper], Andrea [Caldarelli] and the No. 3 team for how consistent and strong they have run so far this season.”
The team entered the 2021 season having seen its second-most wins (six) come from the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course. The No. 3 Lamborghini Squadra Corse supported Huracán GT3 EVO added another victory to that total, and the opening result gives the team 10 podiums at the track. Zeroing in on the 2021 title hunt: The win gives K-PAX Racing at least one trip to Victory Lane in the last three events, and three of those victories have been from pole position (Sonoma, Race 1, 2; Circuit of The Americas, Race 1; VIRginia International Raceway, Race 1).
While VIR has been valuable to the team over the years in its pursuit for championships, its 2021 trip did not come without adversity. After a two-day test, the team was sent into an early scramble during Thursday practice, forced to make repairs on the No. 6. The team banded together, tending to the front-end through the final session of the day, where its sister No. 3 car simultaneously recorded a best lap of 1:44.943 with Pepper behind the wheel.
The No. 6 crew was able to complete the repairs and ready the car for Friday’s qualifying, where both K-PAX Racing Huracán GT3 EVOs were competitive. Caldarelli, co-driver of the No. 3, was the pacesetter and soon pole-sitter for a shortened first qualifying sessions, recording a 1:44.306 before a red flag called in the field. The No. 3 has been pole-sitter in at least one race in each of the first three series events. Corey Lewis, who has the most experience out of the team’s driving core at VIR, took first honors for the No. 6 and climbed to third quickest on the charts with a 1:45.867.
Both K-PAX Racing cars started on the right-side of the field for 90 minutes of series action. The green flag was the only cadence Caldarelli needed to gap the field, while Lewis defended his position from a charging competitor down the front-stretch. The start was without incident for both, and while Caldarelli maintained his lead, Lewis battled the top-five. The No. 6 fell off the pace at about the seven-minute mark, retreating to the pits to diagnose the issue.
“It’s really unfortunate what happened to the No. 6 car today,” Law said. “We had some electrical issues which forced us out, but hopefully they will be back tomorrow. The No. 6 car has had a rough weekend after the incident in practice, and you really need to credit the crew that worked hours and hours to put everything back together and deliver a strong car. The car was good, but we just had an issue. Both teams have done a tremendous job.”
Caldarelli set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:46.373, on his way to a six-second lead nearing the half-hour mark – only to set a new best twice-over, shave nearly a tenth off his time (1:46.288) and build his advantage to about 10-seconds leading into the mandatory pit-stop. However, the race’s first caution on the heels of the pit-window regrouped the field, resetting the ground he gained.
The No. 3 executed a quick stop as the leader, substituting in Pepper for the homestretch. Pepper reentered the field in second position but completed the pass to recover the class and overall lead heading into the final half-hour of regulation. Pepper maintained his steady, swift pace, ultimately helping the team its fifth victory (fourth for the No. 3) in five rounds of series action.
K-PAX Racing will start fourth (second in PRO) and ninth (fourth in PRO) overall on the grid for the event finale. Pepper recorded a 1:44.414 in qualifying and Venturini a 1:45.069 in another abbreviated session caused by on-track incidents. The team will be chasing its third-straight event sweep – a feat that it has not seen in its already illustrious history.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “We knew we’d struggle a little bit in the beginning, but the car was really good. I just tried to save some tires and juice for the end of the stint. The safety car at the end didn’t help the gap when passing the car off to Jordan [Pepper], but it was reassuring to feel how great the car was.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “To be fair, we tried to undercut the others a bit and my out-lap wasn’t great, and we got jumped. But luckily, they got a pit-stop penalty, so we got the spot back. But it was really tough in this heat because the cars become incredibly hard to drive. It was just about being consistent to the end and bringing it home.”
Giovanni Venturini – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – NC) – “I have to say thank you for the big effort K-PAX Racing put forth after my crash in the first practice. It’s motorsports. We’re a team. Congratulations to our sister team, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.”
Corey Lewis – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – NC) – “It seems like VIR has been more of a challenge than what we were hoping for. Coming in with the momentum we had built from Circuit of The Americas – our first win with the No. 6 car. But for whatever reason, motorsports gives us tough cards to deal with. The whole K-PAX Racing crew, especially the No. 6 car… those guys have been busting their butts all weekend… through testing and within the last 24-48 hours. They tried to get the car back to tip-top shape, but unfortunately in the first race, we had a little bit of a mechanical play issue. Again though, these guys are working extremely hard, and I can’t thank them enough. Hopefully, we can rebound Sunday and join our teammates on the podium.”
Source. K-PAX Racing