During nearly a two-month break in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Championship, K-PAX Racing showed no signs of easing back on the throttle. In fact, after an extensive and strategic testing program between events, the team’s two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs hooked right up Saturday for the seventh round – two podiums in the event opener at Road America, including one victory from pole.
Fans near-and-far were able to witness a hard-fought opening round at “America’s National Park of Speed,” as the No. 3 went flag-to-flag in a race highlighted by a late push by its class competitors. While K-PAX Racing was challenged on pace throughout the race, it has also shown the ability to finish races under a wide variety of conditions and succeed from strategy. The victory gives the No. 3 five victories from pole, and the team has six wins overall in seven rounds this season – at least one victory at each event.
“This is a great points day for us — we need to keep that going,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “So far, we’ve been a little down on pace, but we had a great strategy and pit-stops with a little bit of luck. It was a great finish for us.”
In Saturday’s early-morning qualifying, Andrea Caldarelli earned his third pole of the season, and the team captured its fifth in the last four series events. Caldarelli posted a time of 2.07.102 in field separated by close margins. Giovanni Venturini, co-driver of its sister-car in the No. 6, recorded a 2:07.918, earning the four-spot on the grid.
In a slightly delayed start – the race set for 90 minutes – the two Huracán GT3 EVOs maintained position in the opening sequence. Caldarelli was able to create a four-second buffer from the field in the first half-hour. The No. 3 stretched its legs to a six-second advantage at the hour-mark, only then to add another two seconds to give the crew a comfortable cushion for the mandatory pit-stop and driver change.
After a speedy stop, teammate Jordan Pepper reentered the field and made his way back to the top. The No. 6 followed suit with a quick stop, entering the pits in fourth and making the switch to Corey Lewis. In the first half of the race, the No. 3 recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 2:10.159.
Lewis picked up podium position shortly after the window due to a competitor infraction but was quickly pressured by the field. The No. 6 engaged in a fierce exchange with an out-of-class competitor, soon forfeiting the position but staying on the all-Pro podium. Pepper stayed consistent on his pace, maintaining an eight-second lead – as high as 11 seconds – but quickly approached back-markers which gradually narrowed the margins.
A late surge by second place threatened Pepper’s lead with about 10 minutes remaining, and with one back-marker in the mix of a potential battle for the lead, a spin by that car drew a caution with six minutes on the clock. The opener finished prematurely under full-course yellow conditions, subsequently giving the No. 3 team the victory.
“We have been struggling a bit from a handling standpoint, so tomorrow is going to be even more of a challenge,” Law said. “We start mid-field, but we’ll be going through the car tonight, trying to make a bunch of positive changes. We’ll see what we have tomorrow morning.”
Intermittent thunderstorms and heavy rain drastically changed Friday’s track conditions from a dry, mid-morning practice session to a slicker, late-afternoon one but K-PAX Racing was still able to lay Pirelli P Zero rubber down on the long-straights of Road America – the team opted to swap slicks for wets – and record consistently quick laps, giving the team and its drivers some guidance and an assortment of data toward setting up the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
The No. 3 recorded the fastest lap among the all-Pro entries in the first session with a 2:07.967. The No.3 has been the fastest all-Pro car in six of eight practice sessions and has topped the overall charts three times. Continually showing some signs of immediate success, the team and its drivers have proved their adaptability to new courses with the Huracán GT3 EVO.
K-PAX Racing will start third and fourth in the all-Pro class for Sunday’s event finale. The starters: Pepper will take the honours in the No. 3 after recording a 2:06.972 in qualifying, and Lewis will accelerate the No. 6 into the green after posting a 2:07.947. Race is scheduled to start at 2:15 p.m. CDT.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “We tried all that we could to give Jordan [Pepper] a good gap. We were struggling a little bit with the pace compared to what we wanted, but in the end a win is a win. We really need to put our heads down and try to figure out ways to get better tomorrow. The pace was not 100 percent there, but we know how to improve.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “This was probably the best win that we could have picked up this season, because it was our hardest race against our competitors. We simply did not have the pace but executed well. Andrea [Caldarelli] did a mega qualifying lap to go on pole, and also put his head down and opened up a gap for me in the race. It saved my life, really. I gave it 110 percent from the pits to the flag, but we just weren’t quick enough. We’ll take the 25 points — ones that I think will mean so much later in the championship. The trophy and champagne is for the guys, who have been working extremely hard and never give up. We need to dig deep, because it’s going to get tough from here on out.”
Giovanni Venturini – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “I tried to overtake the BMW but he overtook me in the straight, and the power difference is just too big. But we brought the car home with points toward the championship. Now, we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Corey Lewis – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “A podium is always good, and it’s nice to get these points and hardware at the end of the day. Ultimately though, if it wasn’t for the issue with Turner [Motorsports], I don’t think we had the pace to match them. This one was a nice little treat, but we definitely need to go back, massage the car a little more to try and make it better for the finale.”
Source. K-PAX Racing