K-PAX Racing endured a challenging Indianapolis 8 Hour Saturday to conclude its 2022 season. But even through adversity, the team still managed to finalize its second-consecutive full sweep of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Championship. In its third event appearance, which is shared with the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli sister series, the team battled to a Top-10 class finish.
“Entering the final round, the Indianapolis 8 Hour, we already had the Drivers’ and Team title locked up,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “The goal here was to try and win the race of course, but to also secure the Manufacturers’ Championship for Lamborghini. They’ve done such a great job for us this year, and the team has done a great job as well. We have to look back on the season and be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish – a repeat of the 2021 series championship.”
K-PAX Racing has had a Top-10 showing in its last three events at Indy, dating back to a 2020 debut. K-PAX Racing helps Lamborghini to its second-consecutive manufacturers’ title in the series (274). K-PAX Racing celebrates a back-to-back sweep of the series with Lamborghini, which includes the Drivers’, Team, and Manufacturers’ Championship.
Michele Beretta and Jordan Pepper were able to settle the score for runner-up in the drivers’ standings, as Pepper narrowly got the better of the two (229 – 213). However, all four regular season drivers got the best-case scenario as a team, finishing in the top-four spots of the standings.
Friday qualifying set the tone for the weekend – the immediate goal of advancing to the Pole Shootout under the Intercontinental GT Challenge race format. The team Huracán GT3 EVOs were successful, as the No. 1 recorded a combined average of 1:23.007, which was second-best overall. The No. 3 set a fifth-fastest 1:23.431 average. The Pole Shootout saw the Jordan Pepper and the No. 3 jump its sister-car, qualifying fourth on the grid with a 1:22.398. Andrea Caldarelli, who was in the seat for the No. 1, secured fifth on the grid with a 1:22.430. The top-five of the shootout was separated by narrow margins, as the team cars were only two-tenths off the pole.
Misha Goikhberg and Marco Mapelli started for the team’s Huracán GT3 EVOs. Mapelli somersaulted the No. 1 up two spots from the inside and into podium position heading into the first corner. The top-three enjoyed nearly a six-second gap from the rest of the field. Mapelli advanced to second nearing the 30-minute mark. About 15 minutes later, Mapelli gave the No. 1 its first lead of the race. Simultaneously, Goikhberg took a more defensive approach to retain track position until a competitor spun the No. 3 into the 10th turn. Goikhberg dropped down to 16th.
The No. 1 made a shift to Michele Beretta toward the end of the first mandatory pit window; Newcomer Franck Perera hopped into the No. 3. Beretta settled into a double-stint and podium position, while both Perera and Pepper used their first stints to recover. Pepper progressed majorly into the third hour, breaking into the overall Top-10.
Caldarelli finessed the No. 1 around congestion and carnage on the course in his stint, hovering around the top-five. He engaged in an intense battle entering the race’s fourth hour, outpacing a class competitor in the corners for fourth. However, a left-rear tire puncture forced Caldarelli to abandon his attempt of climbing up the order. Rather, the No. 1 team resorted to a pit-stop, also making the change for Mapelli. Unfortunately, Mapelli and the No. 1 were forced to retire under the halfway point after the car collided with the inside barrier on the front straightaway.
The No. 3 continued its campaign, regaining a place in the overall Top-10 with about two hours remaining. Pepper completed the race for the No. 3, placing seventh in the Pro class and 11th overall.
“The race did not go our way today,” Law said. “We had some struggles. But again, the main goal was to bring in these championships for everybody. We look forward to the Awards Banquet tomorrow and moving on to 2023.”
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – NC) – “I would like to thank all the team members, as it was very difficult to prepare for such an intense weekend. IGTC is very competitive, and we have done a fantastic job being competitive. Obviously, it hurts to end a weekend like this – after all the effort from K-PAX Racing and Lamborghini to give us a strong car. But it is racing, and we move forward. Obviously, I wanted to finish the championship in a different way today, but I am proud to have given the team a title for the second year in a row.
It was a tough year. For some, it looked like we had a smooth season, but it wasn’t, and so to give the team this title means a lot. I would like to thank a lot of the team and [Lamborghini] Squadra Corse for the endless support. I am really happy to have clinched my sixth SRO series title.”
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – NC) – “Unfortunately, it was not the way we wanted to end this season. We could fight for the podium. Luckily, Marco [Mapelli] was fine after the big crash. It was very unfortunate. The car was great to drive all weekend. Everyone worked really hard to get a perfect car for this race. I have to give thanks to K-PAX Racing for a great season and to Lamborghini Squadra Corse for the endless support. Big thanks to also my teammates – Andrea [Caldarelli], JP (Jordan Pepper) and Misha [Goikhberg].”
Marco Mapelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – NC) – “Thank you to the team for the effort to find the right performance during this weekend. I think we were quite all right with the car, and we did a good preparation throughout the week. The race started well – we were fighting for podium position. Fighting for the lead was a little tough for us with the BoP (Balance of Performance) right now. We had a problem with the tires, but up until the puncture, we were having a good week. I enjoyed shariong the car with Andrea [Caldarelli] and Michele [Beretta], who did a very good job. I’m looking forward to gaining some luck together after our time here.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – 7th) – “It was a tough ending to the Indianapolis 8 Hour. It’s a race that has haunted me and K-PAX Racing. I wanted to win it so badly for the team. It just means we have to come back and do it. But on the positive side, I got second in the championship at the end. It’s not the way I wanted to beat Mike [Beretta] and the No. 1. It was an unfortunate incident that took him out of the round. It’s been a tough year, but we have to look at the positives – a Team Championship and one through four in the Drivers’ Championship.
We had a strong showing but not strong at the end, which is frustrating because sometimes motorsports is all about the last event. I’ve been with a great group of guys, and it’s been a privilege to drive with them for the last two seasons and hopefully many more to come. I’m very thankful for every single team member – for all the hard work and countless hours they’ve put in. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to go racing. And a big thanks to all the senior management and the boss himself, Jim [Haughey]. I’m very grateful to be a part of such an amazing team. I look forward to many more races with them in the future.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – 7th) – “We had a very strong line-up with Jordan Pepper and my friend Franck Perera joining us. The crew worked very hard, and I’d like to say thank you to K-PAX Racing, Lamborghini, Chris Ward and Giorgio Sanna for all their support. It did not work out for us today – we had some contact and penalties along the way. But, we had really good pace. We’ll come back stronger next year.”
Franck Perera – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race – 7th) – “It went pretty well, though it was not the result we expected. But, even at the start of the week, it wasn’t easy to put it all together. To work together with Jordan [Pepper] and Misha [Goikhberg] was really good because session by session, we improved so much. We saw our potential on Friday, because we were third in pre-qualifying and in qualifying, we were toward the front. That gave us a lot of confidence, because we were able to start the race in the second row. Unfortunately, Misha had some contact from behind, and when you damage the car, it gets a little tricky during the race – the car wasn’t going completely straight after that. But we kept fighting. It wasn’t our race, but the speed wasn’t that bad. I’m quite happy about my stints – I was following the leaders. So, it’s a shame because I think we could have surely finished in the top-five – with two cars. But, it was a great experience with K-PAX Racing, and I hope to be back.”
Source. K-Pax Racing