Sebring International Raceway has a backstory fuelled on adrenaline – a former site for B-17 pilots in the 1940’s to today, when some of the world’s most elite sports car racing drivers in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Championship suited up to take flight on the iconic racecourse. In the 11th round of the series’ 2021 tour – returning to Sebring for the first time since 2009 – K-PAX Racing reached new heights, clinching multiple titles in its maiden voyage with Lamborghini Squadra Corse.
“As always, it was an amazing job by the K-PAX Racing crew,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “Everything was flawless – a great qualifying effort and race today. Andrea [Caldarelli] pulled a nice gap in the beginning, a good pit-stop, and then Jordan [Pepper] maintained that. I couldn’t be happier for K-PAX Racing, Jim [Haughey] and Lamborghini – the crew and drivers. It’s been a big learning curve jumping into this year – a new car with a new manufacturer – but we’ve had an amazing season and one of those you dream about.”
The No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO of Caldarelli and Pepper accelerated steadily to its eighth victory of the season – seventh victory from pole position. Its sister car, the No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO driver by Giovanni Venturini and Corey Lewis, shared the front row for a fourth time this season (Sonoma Raceway, Round 1; Circuit of The Americas, Round 3; Watkins Glen International, Round 9). K-PAX Racing securing the front row did not come without trials through testing and practice at a course the team has not seen in more than a decade and with limited testing only during race week. However, the team managed to find a complementary package, earning a one-two qualifying result with Caldarelli setting a blistering 2:00.977 lap and Venturini recording a 2:01.848.
The team’s two Huracán GT3 EVOs made a clean pass through the opening sequences of the 90-minute opener, and within the first half-hour of action, Caldarelli created more than a 16-second cushion from the field. Venturini saw most of his stint battling the third-place car, successfully maintaining his position and keeping a four-tenths of a second gap. While Venturini managed to hold his ground, a tire puncture nearing the mandatory pit window forced the No. 6 to pit early – also having to fulfill an additional stop during the window. Caldarelli made his in-lap to pit lane with about a 22-second lead, and in his stint, he recorded the fastest lap of the first-half with a 2:02.770.
Pepper climbed into the No. 3, looking to put the exclamation point on the opener. He was quick to start clearing back-marker cars, building on Caldarelli’s lead by about another four seconds in the first 10 minutes of his stint. Lewis, in the No. 6, collected three overall positions from out-of-class competitors in Pro podium position (sixth overall). Pepper managed the gap to safely get the No. 3 across the line for about a 34-second margin of victory, with the No. 6 finishing third in class.
The No. 3 team added another max points day to its campaign – 25 points to make it 245 through 11 rounds. The 76-point gap from its sister-car (169) is enough to mathematically secure K-PAX Racing’s first Drivers’ Championship since 2016 – its fifth all-time. The team also clinches a Team Championship, its first since 2019, and the win helps Lamborghini to its first Manufacturers’ title in SRO’s North American series.
“To capture a Drivers’, Team and Manufacturers’ Championship a week early is beyond our wildest dreams,” Law said. “It’s hard to switch manufacturers and jump right into a season, but we have a great group of guys that took the challenge on. The engineers have been working hard, and we knew from our very first test with these cars that they were going to be competitive. We had some great races early-on – a few struggles throughout the season. But we always finished well.”
“We have two different mindsets here. For the No. 3 car, we locked-up the championship and can relax a bit – but it’s not a reason to back-off and we’re still going for wins. We still have a lot to prove and learn. For the No. 6, we are still battling for second in the championship. That’s the goal and that’s something very important to us.”
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “We didn’t have much time to prepare this season, so we tried to squeeze in as much testing as we could. I’m quite happy because it’s the first year K-PAX Racing is running Lamborghini, so it was a little bit of pressure for me coming in — trying to bring a little bit of experience and knowledge from the factory in Italy. So, I’m really proud of that. We worked as a team, and we had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day it was important to seal this championship. I’m very happy we did it here in Sebring — it’s an iconic track and historical for America.
We always work in a way to find the most comfortable driving situation. We knew with the heat, tire degradation could be serious. We focused on that after qualifying, we followed our routine in setup changes, and it worked quite well.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “It’s been an amazing year by everyone, and how we did it with a win is great. It was sad to see our sister-car get a puncture which made the difference in the end, but it’s been an incredible year to get the eighth win now — and to bring all three Championships back to K-PAX Racing and Lamborghini is incredibly awesome. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone, and to share the car with Andrea [Caldarelli] to get this achievement.
That’s been the trick this year, hasn’t it (winning from pole)? Tomorrow we need to change that and get a win from third, so we can go into Indy with the idea that we can win from anywhere. Andrea opened a crazy lead. It was down to him. I did the easy bit and managed to extend it a bit. It was odd because when thinking about the championship, it’s hard to think not to push.”
Giovanni Venturini – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “Qualifying was important, and we started front row. Andrea [Caldarelli] and I did a great start, keeping first and second position. I tried to defend with Giacomo [Altoè], and in the end, I got a puncture out of Turn 17. I had to pit which destroyed our race, but Corey [Lewis] did a mega job in his stint to third. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Corey Lewis – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “First and foremost, congrats to the sister-car clinching the championship. They worked hard all year long and are great teammates. It’s also great for Lamborghini clinching a championship, because I know it was big on their checklist. The car was quite good. I was just in recovery mode, and I tried to conserve the left-rear as best I could since we had a puncture and that was on the car longer. But, I did everything I could to be consistent and if there was a yellow or something like that, we were in position to capitalize. All-in-all, it was a decent day aside from the setback. But it’s motorsports — it happens. We’ll keep grinding. Tomorrow, we’ll see what we can do to improve two spots better.”
Source. K-Pax Racing