K-PAX Racing has long been the team to beat for many GT3 teams in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS paddock – 11 straight races from the team’s September sweep at Watkins Glen International last season. The win streak put a target on the team, and while it has enjoyed the taste of champagne and victory at the top of the podium each event since that initial sweep, K-PAX Racing was faced with a more challenging stop at “The Glen” for Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2022 championship.
The seventh round of series action did not go as planned, as the team’s two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs finished just shy of the class podium in fourth and fifth. The adversity was unrelenting into the event finale, as electrical issues and on-track damage added some wrinkles to the hopes of having a smooth run. The team withstood the hard-hitting difficulties however, earning a second-place finish with its No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
The No. 1 continued its campaign despite enduring those electrical issues. Late in the race, Michele Beretta was able to hold steadily in third, until a class competitor ahead of him suffered issues of its own. K-PAX Racing was able to improve its position to second in the Pro class, also having a comfortable advantage over its class competitors to finish runner-up, despite a left-rear puncture in the closing minutes that forced an unplanned pit.
“It was a very challenging weekend for K-PAX Racing,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “But that’s racing. When we’ve been as dominant as we’ve had for so long, and to have an ‘off’ weekend like we’ve had with this one, it’s disappointing. We need to put everything into perspective. We can’t be at the top all the time.”
“It’s unfortunate. The No. 3 car was very fast, qualifying on the front row, and we just had a mechanical issue that took us out. I feel like we got a bit lucky with the No. 1 car. We also had some electrical issues there that we were fighting all weekend. Other teams had misfortunes too, so to come away with second-place points is good.”
There were multiple high points in the team’s weekend performance. Beretta was quick on the accelerator to kick-off qualifying for the opening seventh round, climbing the charts very early in the abbreviated 15-minute session. The field eventually was brought up to speed, and Beretta’s pole-setting run was threatened momentarily – until he posted the only time of the session under the 1:45.000 threshold. Beretta helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth consecutive event where the No. 1 started on pole with a time of 1:44.950.
Another highlight takes into account more than one decade of intermittent series stops at The Glen. In the team’s last five appearances at Watkins Glen International since 2010, it has recorded at least one podium finish. K-PAX Racing has earned 12 podiums in the last four events between its two Huracán GT3 EVOs and has recorded at least one in every event since its shift to Lamborghini.
K-PAX Racing had an opportunity to help inspire racing’s future, as it welcomed SAE International programs based in Western New York. More than 15 students from Rochester Institute of Technology (Formula SAE, Baja SAE) and Cornell University (Formula SAE) joined the team in the garages and in pit-lane, learning about race preparation and operation.
“It was amazing,” said Mechanical Engineering Junior Sam Georgal, who is a chassis designer on the RIT Formula SAE team. “Bringing our team here really opened our eyes up to what it’s like to work in the industry and to be at the track. It’s really an invaluable experience to the entire team, to learn and get involved in this sport.”
“I learned how much hard work, time and effort goes into each day and making sure everything goes to plan. K-PAX Racing works around the clock to ensure they get the best results they possibly can, and it’s nice to see that. It puts into perspective what’s ahead of me if I choose to go down this path of motorsports. I’m excited for it.”
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “It was good for the points. However, it was one of the toughest weekends we’ve had in two years. We need to find out what went wrong because we were definitely struggling. We were a couple of seconds off the pace. I’m sure the guys will figure out something before Road America. I tried to do my best, but I couldn’t improve for Michele [Beretta]. He did a good job in staying calm and pushing.”
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “Qualifying was a good session and we managed to have a good lap, but if we look at the bigger picture, our pace was not good compared to some of our competitors. We need to figure out what was missing from this weekend, because last weekend (testing at Watkins Glen International) we had good pace. Maybe this high-level grip track is not fitting for our car. We need to come back, look at the data and find that extra speed for next time.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 5th) – “It was a weekend full of promise, and nothing came from it in the end. Unfortunately, two races and two issues that took us out of contention. The first race it was very early-on in Misha (Goikhberg)’s stint in good position and the second race it was the same for me from second. It was super frustrating. We got some points, but it was a weekend when we should have been able to capitalize on everyone’s mistakes for the win. I’m proud of how Misha drove – he took some very big steps this weekend. We showed good pace, but it’s not good enough if we want to contend for the championship. Let’s see if we can regroup and recover for Road America.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 5th) – “It was a very frustrating weekend, especially given that other competitors had problems. So, we could have had a strong result. We’ll investigate and come back stronger for Road America.”
Source. K-Pax Racing