Often times when K-PAX Racing loads into the Sonoma Raceway paddock, its homebase provides a sense of comfort and familiarity. But in 2021, it was less calm. It was less familiar. The team was still finding its footing in its budding partnership with Lamborghini Squadra Corse and its Huracán GT3 EVO. Nevertheless, K-PAX Racing dug in its heels and jumped to the top of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS standings that weekend – an early, virtually instant sign of success to its eventual championship-winning campaign.
K-PAX Racing will chase the taste of champagne in Wine Country April 15-17 during the opening rounds of GT World Challenge America at Sonoma. The team’s all-pro lineup entry sees the return of Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper – this time as the No. 1 Huracán GT3 EVO from their 2021 title. K-PAX Racing also welcomes a Pro-Am addition in the series’ opening rounds for the first time since 2018, opening the door for multiple championships. The No. 3 Huracán GT3 EVO will be fielded by GT racing veteran Misha Goikhberg and Lamborghini factory driver Giacomo Altoè. Both will make their anticipated team debut.
“We discussed several options for this new season and felt it was important to return to the SRO to defend our Championship in the Pro class, but we also wanted to expand the program and chose to enter a car in the Pro-Am Championship this year,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “This is something we have not done in several years. It will be great to have the majority of the team back together for another season, and as our relationship continues to grow with Lamborghini, our understanding of this car is also growing, and we are excited to get the 2022 season underway.”
While only two weeks of consistent testing separated the team from the opening rounds last season, K-PAX Racing enters 2022 in the driver’s seat having completed a full campaign and testing program with the Huracán GT3 EVO. While the team enjoyed having valuable foundational data from last season, the series’ introduction of the new Pirelli DHF tire is an additional adaptation for 2022.
“While we did not have a lot of time to learn the cars before the start of the 2021 season, we enter this year with a full season under our belts,” Law said. “We have learned so much about these cars and are looking forward to continuing to build on this program. We feel we have a great paring in our new drivers for the Pro-Am class, and we look forward to tackling that challenge. The one item that will be somewhat different is the new Pirelli tire. Although we don’t have a lot of time with it yet, neither does anyone else. At least we will be a lot farther ahead this year than last year at the start of the season.”
Regardless of the tight timetables the team was faced with in 2021, K-PAX Racing was successful in its debut with Lamborghini in the series’ opening rounds. Caldarelli and Pepper mastered a perfect weekend, finishing at the top of the charts the entire weekend. This included both practice sessions, as well as putting their Huracán GT3 EVO on pole for both rounds of action (Round 1, Caldarelli, 1:36.186; Round 2, Pepper, 1:36.026). They never looked back, leading the field into the checkered flag in both races by a comfortable margin. The entire team celebrated a flawless weekend, with both Huracán GT3 EVOs finishing one-two. In the opening round, Caldarelli posted the fastest time of the race with a 1:38.531.
“It was a great start to the championship last year, and this keeps us motivated to do it again,” Law said. “We are constantly learning and improving – [the championship title] doesn’t necessarily make things easier or change how we feel about our race season as the competition get tougher each year.”
K-PAX Racing has been awarded the most podiums in its history at Sonoma Raceway (19). The team celebrated its first podium – and victory – at Sonoma in 2011, which was also the team’s track debut in the series (Aaron Povoledo, TC Class). In nine series appearances, the team has reached the top-step five times.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “The pre-season testing went quite well. We had few things we wanted to explore since last year, and the fact we have a different tire compound from last year has given us the opportunity to test new items and solutions that we would not be able to test during the season. So, I am very excited to start this new season, especially with No.1 on the car.
It felt very nice to be all back together – same faces, people and it was especially nice that we still have the same motivation and hunger of winning races. So, it all feels awesome.
Last year during first test for us was very tough as we encountered a few issues that needed to be solved in a very short time because the season was starting very quickly. This year, at least we had more time to work on details and small items that we could not test last year.
[Sonoma Raceway] is still one of the best tracks in USA. It is not very long, but it’s very technical and challenging. Qualifying will be very important as there are not many opportunities to overtake.
It doesn’t matter what you did the year before in motorsport. Every year is new chapter, and I would like to think the same way this year. Of course, it is nice to have the No.1 on the car, but we have to be humble and work hard to keep our focus, while also pushing each other every weekend. So, for me, it is kind of starting from zero and building up a new season.
Last year showed that the Huracán GT3 EVO likes this track, but this year with new tires, it will be a different story. We will see only during race weekend where we really are. So far, the test session was very positive, so hopefully we will be in a good place.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “Coming off pre-season testing and looking ahead to the first rounds of the season, we have to consider the fact that none of us have been in the car since Indy (Indianapolis 8 Hour). It was great to be back in our Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. The first thing on the program was to get back into the swing of things for both me and Andrea [Caldarelli].
It was good to get my head back around the Lamborghini, and we had a lot of test points to work through. This year at the Sonoma test, it was more about improving our package compared to last year, which was really good. Considering the series has a new tire this year, the Pirelli DHF, we had a lot to learn. I think we had a very productive test. We wanted to run a bit more, but bad weather held us from that. But we know where we want to be and have a direction to work toward going into the season. We will put Thursday’s test to good use.
Coming into this season as the defending champions – we have the No. 1 on our door – that of course adds pressure. We need to back up what we did last season, but I know we have an incredible team – a really strong group of guys. I feel we’re coming into this season stronger. We’re ready. We’re determined. We’re focused. We want to win more races, get more good results for K-PAX Racing, Jim [Haughey] and the rest of the team. That’s the goal and the motivation.
We were able to get a convincing double-win and a one-two for the team, the track definitely suits our Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – a nice, tight, twisty circuit with a nice flow to it. It’s a ‘driver’s track’ and one that suits our car with hard braking, harsh acceleration, and a lot of change in direction. I think we’ll stack-up well, but there will be tougher competition, so let’s see how we get on this week.”
Giacomo Altoè – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “Pre-season testing went well. I only did one test day but for me, it was very important to get to know with the team and Misha [Goikhberg]. I’m quite confident we can do well. The first test day for me was amazing. There’s a great atmosphere inside the team, and I really liked the first encounter with Misha. He is very professional, and he wants to improve. That’s what I like.
Sonoma Raceway is a very particular track, as the grip level is very low. You need to pay attention to many little things. I think it will be an interesting race. I think that this track suits our Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO well, so I can’t wait to be there and start our first race weekend.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “I think the testing went well. The systems on the car are familiar, and all the basic stuff was completed. The team performed strongly, and we made some gains in figuring out the tires. It was fun to get to know Giacomo [Altoè], as well as Andrea [Caldarelli] and Jordan [Pepper], and I think it will lead us to be productive teammates.
Sonoma is a difficult place to figure out, and it’s important to get a good race setup due to high rear [tire] degradation nature of the track. One of my first race school experiences was in Sonoma many years back. I think our Huracán GT3 EVO will be a very good package –especially over a long run, as we are easy on our rear tires.”
Source. K-Pax Racing