K-PAX Racing is back up to speed in Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS, and it was welcomed by the challenging, fast-action Road America circuit. While the team has a firm grasp on the championship trophies still up for grabs, its fight against the field grows more intense into the second half of the season. Amidst the fierce competition and mixed weather, the team scored a dual podium in the ninth round.
“We have to give kudos to the team after an amazing turnaround,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “We struggled a bit in practice but were solid in the race. This was a really good points day for us. Coming back with second and third is very motivating for tomorrow’s run.”
Mother Nature welcomed the GT3 field into its first official track session of the weekend, as heavy downpours tasked the crews with tackling the track with a wet setup. K-PAX Racing and the No. 3 jumped to the top of the charts under the harsh conditions, as Jordan Pepper — known for his finesse in the rain — posted the fastest time of 2:22.395. Despite the weather easing up toward the end of the session, the time stood as the quickest of all Pro competitors.
Saturday morning qualifying saw the K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs closely battle on a dryer course. Misha Goikhberg had the best team run of the first group, recording the third-quickest time among the Pros (fourth overall) of 2:06.009. Michele Beretta was less than a half-second off his mark, finishing fourth in class (fifth overall) with a 2:06.445. Goikhberg started fourth on the grid in the No. 3 and Beretta fifth in the sister No. 1.
The team benefitted from a chaotic start – an unrelated, multi-car incident drawing a full-course yellow. The stoppage was not before Beretta improved to second, followed by Goikhberg in third. The two Huracán GT3 EVOs entered the pits at the start of the window, holding their positions.
Pepper set the quickest time of the race in the first laps of his stint (2:05.837), diminishing the separation from second to four-tenths of a second. With a tick under 30 minutes remaining, Pepper successfully executed a bold maneuver on Caldarelli into the fifth turn. He thereon pulled a sizable gap, distancing himself with a blistering pace.
“Both cars were quick, and Jordan had the fastest lap of the race which is good,” Law said. “We always race each other no matter what. Between teammates, the rule is we never touch or take out another car. It was a tight pass Jordan had on Andrea, but they raced each other clean. That’s what it’s all about.”
Pepper and Goikhberg matched their best finish as a driver pairing. Caldarelli and Beretta extend their streak of four straight events of finishing on the podium as a pair. Caldarelli has finished on the podium in every event since joining K-PAX Racing – 11 total events dating back to March 2021.
After nine rounds, all four K-PAX Racing drivers make up the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings. Caldarelli leads (195), followed by Pepper (151), Beretta (145) and Goikhberg (131).
Pepper and Caldarelli represented the team for Round 10 qualifying. Pepper will start the No. 3 third in Pro (fourth overall) after a 2:04.029 trip around Road America. Caldarelli will battle from fourth in class (10th overall) after posting a time of 2:05.030. Sunday’s event finale is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. (CT).
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – Unavailable for comment.
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “It was a hard first lap in the second corner. We were lucky to be in the right place in that moment. Our start was actually good into the first corner. I went for the outside line, and it paid off. I was lucky to avoid everything without losing time, and I actually made another position over Misha [Goikhberg]. Our pace is not super strong, especially at the end with old tires. Andrea [Caldarelli] managed it well, but Jordan [Pepper] had another gear. Third was the maximum today. We’ll try to make a good recovery tomorrow, as we’ve shown in past races.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 2nd) – “It was a shame for Misha [Goikhberg] because he had an incredible start, but then he had to avoid a spinning competitor. We lost a place to the sister-car, and it’s so hard to pass here in the dirty air. He did a good job keeping the gap. I closed it down as much as I could to Andrea [Caldarelli], and we were both pushing the limit. I think I left enough room – maybe a little aggressive on my side – on the move, but I had to go for it. I saw it as my only opportunity, because up until then he was making zero mistakes. I just capitalized on one mistake and got a good slipstream. It was a cool move, and then I put my head down and tried to catch the leader. Let’s fine-tune the car for tomorrow and try again.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 2nd) – “It was unfortunate we had to take avoidance action, because it put us back a little bit and we lost a position to our sister car. We could not really attack P1. We have all the ingredients to win, but it hasn’t happened yet. That first step on the podium has been elusive, but it was a strong performance from everyone and a great rebound from Watkins Glen [International].”
Source. K-Pax Racing