Rounds 5 and 6 of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS took place at VIRginia International Raceway, known to the racing community as “Heaven on Earth”, which translated to “fairytale” in describing the way the weekend ended up going for K-PAX Racing.
Andrea Caldarelli & Michele Beretta swept both races in the No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO, with teammates Jordan Pepper & Misha Goikhberg in the sister No. 3 Huracán GT3 EVO taking 3rd place in the Pro class each time.
“Really excited, that was a great run this weekend,” said K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law. “I have to give credit to not only the drivers, but the crews and their execution. A P1 and P3 again, really working on extending that points lead further… I’m very proud of this program.”
Both pairings fought harder for Sunday’s race results compared to Saturday’s effort, having started the race down the order after the No. 3 was caught up in a post-race penalty from Round 5. In the opening laps, Caldarelli & Pepper were 5th and 8th overall, but slowly starting their fight to the front. Several rotations of caution periods added complications, but both drivers stood tall and charged on the restarts to get to the pit stop & driver exchanges.
Pepper brought the No. 3 in first, turning the car over to Goikhberg, but unfortunately had a slower stop after experiencing a slow tire leak on the in-lap and lost some spots. Caldarelli brought the No. 1 in on the following lap, and Beretta exited the pits with a successful undercut to move from P3 to P2 in class. He methodically worked his way to the front, first taking the lead in class, then the overall lead soon after.
“A mega stop for the No. 1 especially, and we were able to come out of the pits ahead of the car we had been chasing,” added Law. “That really put us in position to win, and then the guys just drove it home to a great finish.”
Goikhberg, who found himself as low in the overall order as 10th (4th in class) with 30 minutes remaining, kicked on the afterburners and charged forward. He fought his way to an eventual 3rd in class (5th overall), nearly moving up and additional two spots overall and one in class. For his part, Beretta held strong against a pair of charging competitors, and after unforced errors by both of the rivals, he extended his lead to cross the finish line 28 seconds ahead of 2nd place.
K-PAX Racing has now swept every round of the 2022 GT World Challenge America season, as well as bringing the team’s win streak to 11 consecutive victories. That total stretches back into 2021, including the final two rounds of that GT World Challenge America season, as well as an Intercontinental GT Challenge event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“11 wins in a row, that’s… that’s unprecedented,” said Law. “The cars were flawless, so thanks to Lamborghini for their support as always.”
Next up on the GT World Challenge America schedule is Watkins Glen International, where Rounds 7 and 8 will take place on July 22-24.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “It was quite a good race, though a bit eventful at the start. After Turn 1 I didn’t have space inside, so I went outside and got sandwiched and lost the position. Then we had a lot of safety car time, but after I really pushed hard on the in-lap to give Michele [Beretta] a good position, and it worked. The guys did a great stop with no mistakes, very positive. We will need to do some work on our setup for Watkins Glen, analyze data and such, but I’m looking forward to the next rounds.”
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “I think we did a perfect job again with the strategy. The pit call, the pit stop, there was fighting in the beginning but he did a great job keeping towards the front. I don’t think it was a very fun stint for him with all of the long safety cars. But my stint was fairly clear and it felt good in the car. Our main competitors were struggling a bit more, and we just all did a great job again.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 3rd) – “Firstly, it was quite frustrating having to start in the back because of the penalty. I got smashed off fairly quickly, so the two places I gained on the start, I lost again. Then we had a couple of safety cars, then a slow puncture, so boxed as early as we could. Pit stop didn’t go great so we’ll do some work there, but I’m quite impressed with Misha [Goikhberg]’s pace through his stint. We ended up with two podiums and I have a test with Misha coming up at Watkins Glen, and we’ll maximize these gains. A win for us is super close.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd, Race 2 – 3rd) – “It was good, definitely challenging in the car. The pit stop with the slow leak in the tire really forced our hand, and then we got held up by some traffic. I feel our pace is getting really close to the No. 1’s, and hopefully we’ll be challenging them for a win very soon. Good job to the team, good job to the sister car, and I really think we’re finding a rhythm we can be proud of.”
Source. K-Pax Racing