If any passerby answered how late K-PAX Racing prepared its No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO Friday night at Sebring International Raceway, the word might be “unusually” late. It was dark. Most of the day’s track goers had gone home for the day. But if you were to ask the crew itself, it was simply another day-in-the-life fueled by a championship mindset that has driven them for years.
K-PAX Racing returned to Sebring for the penultimate rounds of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS – where a sweep secured the three major titles up for grabs in 2021. Fast-forward to this season: When the crew put the fabric car cover over the team’s No. 1 on Friday, they knew it had a legitimate chance of recreating history. The No. 1, driven by Michele Beretta and Andrea Caldarelli, was victorious in the event opener and simultaneously clinched the team’s second consecutive team title. It dates to K-PAX Racing Team Owner Jim Haughey’s early philosophy of not only needing a good car and drivers, but also a skilled crew. A synchronized, powerful push from each gave K-PAX Racing its fifth Team Championship since 2016.
“This was an unbelievable start to the second-to-last rounds of this year’s championship,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “To come away here with a Team Championship, locking it up the last two years, is a testament to this team and the level of success we’ve had.”
The adjustments the team made had an instant impact in Saturday morning’s qualifying sessions, as Beretta showcased the strength of the No. 1 Huracán GT3 EVO on the legendary Sebring circuit. He earned the No. 1’s fifth pole of the season – fourth for the Beretta-Caldarelli pairing – by recording a lap time of 2:00.298. The No. 3 Huracán GT3 EVO of Misha Goikhberg and Jordan Pepper also qualified toward the top, as Goikhberg clocked the third-best time of 2:00.960.
The K-PAX Racing Huracán GT3 EVOs were unscathed in a chaotic opening sequence of the 90-minute race, which resulted in a full-course yellow less than two minutes into the 11th round of the championship. The restart saw both K-PAX Racing cars file into their initial starting positions. Beretta set the pace within the first 20 minutes of action, continually replacing the race’s fastest lap he set to 2:01.633 – and more than a five-second gap over the field. Beretta extends the lead to nearly 11 seconds into the mandatory pitstop. The No. 3 makes the change for Pepper, successfully defending third.
Caldarelli raised the bar on the race’s fastest lap to 2:00.479 in clear air, enjoying more than a 15-second lead with 30 minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Pepper made a push to second by closing the gap to less than four-tenths of a second. Caldarelli’s time earned him the CrowdStrike’s Fastest Lap award, and he eventually crossed the line with more than a 25-second lead. Pepper was unable to safely execute a pass for runner-up, however, helped give the team a double podium for the day. Both K-PAX Racing cars have finished on the Pro-class podium in nine races this season.
“Overall, today was just phenomenal,” Law said. “The No. 1 car was dominant, and the No. 3 car had such a tough fight. It’s great to have them both on the podium. We have to give credit to our team, which has spent a lot of time between races preparing for these events. We had our struggles this year, but found places where we could sort them out. It was obvious today.”
“Even last night: There were some issues and the guys stayed late. But everyone puts in the hard work. Between the crew and the support from Jim Haughey, it makes this truly a winning program. We’re looking forward to closing out the rest of these titles.”
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “A big shoutout to the crew. We know how hard it was behind the scenes to do the job they did in such a short time. It felt good knowing we were able to get a good result for them, because it’s been a frustrating last couple of events. We were able to come back to a very similar feeling that we had earlier in the year. We have a couple of small things to adjust still, but that was the way we wanted to return at Sebring. They deserve this one today. I’m very happy for the team, its second championship in a row. It’s the cherry on top, and they all worked very hard for this.”
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “It was a great qualifying session because we were able to get on pole, though the lap was not super perfect. We still had a little more, but it was important that we were able to just get the car on pole. The race was clean, there were no mistakes and our pace was super strong. Misha [Goikhberg] was in a fight with second position, which allowed us to pull away and manage the pace. The car was great, and I have to thank the crew and Lamborghini for the effort. We were able to bring back the speed that we had in the beginning of the year. This victory goes to them.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “Misha [Goikhberg] tried at the start to jump second but got squeezed to the wall. He dropped off a bit but then came back in the end which was good. We were going to take a Joker on the pit-stop, and I think we could have jumped out in second if we didn’t have a clutch issue. Fortunately, I was able to get the car away, but I spent the whole time chasing second. They just had too much power for what we had today. I tried everything for 50 minutes and it’s just frustrating, because we had a lot more pace. We have another race tomorrow, so let’s see what we can do.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 3rd) – “We thought we could make a run at second, and they struggled more with tire degradation than we did. But they had a lot of straight-line speed and drove a defensive race well. Neither Jordan [Pepper] nor I could pass them, so we had to settle for third. It’s unfortunate, so we need to qualify better. Tomorrow, we’ll turn it around and try to go for the win.”
Source. K-Pax Racing