Back-to-Back Sonoma Sweeps for K-PAX Racing
Team takes an early lead to defend Pro title
If there was a word Andrea Caldarelli wanted to use to describe the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS season-opener at Sonoma Raceway, he hoped it was going to be “fun.” Caldarelli, who longs for the fierce battles that the series offers, got what he asked for – a highly heated finale, where he helped the team chase down a sweep of the first two rounds.
K-PAX Racing completed the feat by finishing its No.1 Huracán GT3 EVO at the top of both race charts by a convincing margin, which is reminiscent to last season’s season-opener at Sonoma. Its sister-car, the No. 3 Huracán GT3 EVO, guided the success of two drivers making their team debut. The team’s performance was highlighted by three podiums. The back-to-back Sonoma sweep is the first time since 2012-2013 the team has swept the same event (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) in consecutive seasons.
“What a great way to start the season,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “It was such a strong run for K-PAX Racing, winning both races in the Pro category while also adding another podium today. To have both cars on the podium today is phenomenal.”
“It feels great to sweep the races, especially opening weekend at our home track. [This event] is very important to us because we spend a lot of time here. It was a great run for the team.”
Both the K-PAX Racing Huracán GT3 EVOs shared a starting position inside the podium, the No. 1 qualifying second on the grid and the No. 3 third. The green flag waved in the 20-car mixed field down the front-stretch for 90-minutes of action, and Caldarelli and Giacomo Altoè quickly found themselves defending their position. Caldarelli was able to retain second, while Altoè settled into his stint at the four-spot but still on the Pro-class podium. Within the first 10 laps, Caldarelli and the lead car were split by no more than three-tenths of a second, while the two broke away from the field by about a 10-second gap. The increasing margin was in-part because of Altoè, who engaged in a fiery string of battles to recover third – allowing the top-two to battle for the lead.
Caldarelli found his shot heading into the 18th lap, at about the half-hour mark. His hot pursuit to the leader closed the gap to about one-tenth by that time, and he was in position to strike. While he was unable to complete the pass, the ensuing mandatory driver change became the turning point for K-PAX Racing.
The leader and Caldarelli entered the pits together, the No. 1 swapping the seat to Jordan Pepper. The No. 1 crew elected to strategically use a “joker” pit-stop, a one-second allowance while conducting the stop (offered once per event weekend). Simultaneously, the team vying for the lead encountered issues during its sequence. The No. 1, with Pepper starting his stint, officially took the lead at the conclusion of the pit window and opened-up about a seven-second advantage. The No. 3 made the swap for Misha Goikhberg, which was able to regain podium position.
“We had that option (joker pit-stop), and the cars were equal enough on-track,” Law said. “So, having a good pit-stop was going to make all the difference in putting us out-front for the second-half of the race.”
A full-course caution regrouped the field heading into the final half-hour of the race, but the restart did not shift the team order. Pepper recouped his seven-second lead, while Goikhberg enjoyed roughly a five-second separation from fourth. Both would ultimately finish in that order, with the No. 1 crossing the line by about a 20-second margin of victory. The No. 3 was also represented on the podium in the Pro class. Like the first round, Caldarelli earned the CrowdStrike Fast Lap with a 1:37.208.
Next up on the schedule: Ozarks International Raceway from May 20-22. Visit gt-world-challenge-america.com for more information.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “It’s true. I wanted some fun and got it. It was 45 minutes of chasing, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find enough space to overtake. I tried to save the tires at the end. I had more pace, but it was very tough to overtake. I really wanted to take some big risks. But it was all in good fun. We knew we wanted to make the pass during the pit-stop with our strategy, and that’s what happened – all according to plan.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 1st) – “It was a great call by the team (pit strategy). Even if the other car didn’t have problems, I still think we would have beat them because we did a mega pit-stop. It was just about conserving the tires in the beginning, then we got the safety car and after, I pushed. I had fun, and it was an incredible car. The guys did a great job. I can’t thank the team enough.”
Giacomo Altoè – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 3rd) – “I really enjoyed this race, and it was quite the show out there. The level of this championship is very high, so to get the position, you really need to fight hard. The car today was flying. Thank you to the team and to Misha [Goikhberg], who did a great job. I’m sure we can continue to improve.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 3rd) – “It was interesting for me to jump in there at the end – I haven’t done that in a long time. We got up to pace but struggled a little bit on [tire] pressures after the yellow. But once we picked up pressure toward the end, we were quick and easily hung on to third. Giacomo did a great job handing the car off to me in a good place. We’re taking it race-by-race, learning and building.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 166 podiums, 67 wins, five Driver Championships, and four Team and Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class, K-PAX Racing has fielded Porsche 911 GT3s during the 2007 – 2008 seasons, Volvo S60s during the 2009 – 2013 seasons, McLaren 12C GT3s in 2014 and McLaren 650S GT3s from 2015 – 2017. The team made a switch to Bentley for 2018, fielding the first-generation Continental GT3 in its first season and the second-generation model in 2019 and 2020. K-PAX Racing debuted the 2021 season in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
About Lamborghini Squadra Corse
Squadra Corse is the motorsport department of Automobili Lamborghini. Born in 2013 within the Research & Development department, Squadra Corse provides an integrated approach to driving experiences of the brand; from driving course programs with road vehicles to motorsport competitions, through the Lamborghini Super Trofeo or championships of the GT class.
Esperienza is the first step for those who are interested in the world of Lamborghini: Its aim is to share the thrill and emotions of the super sports cars from Sant’Agata Bolognese with fans and potential customers alike, by advanced driving course programs. Esperienza Dinamica is divided into five programs in order to face every type of surface: Corsa, Neve, Sabbia, Strada, Terra. Esperienza Accademia is the program dedicated to advanced drivers, offering driving course programs not only on the racetrack but also on ice in order to improve the driving skills of the pilots.
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo is an international motor racing series with drivers competing in identical Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVOs, the racing version of the production model, that features the same 5.2 l naturally aspirated V10 engine. Inaugurated in 2009, Super Trofeo hosts regional championships in Europe, Asia and North America and is divided in four categories: Pro, Pro-Am, Am and Lamborghini Cup bringing together passionate gentleman drivers and young professional pilots. At the end of each season, the teams and drivers of all regions compete against each other in the World Finals, the highlight of the season.
The most challenging tests are those which see Lamborghini’s Customer Racing Teams competing in the principal international GT championships driving the Huracán GT3. The GT3 differs from the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO through its more sophisticated aerodynamics, kinematic suspension control and other technical specifications respecting official FIA regulations. In 2017 the Huracán GT3 won the Blancpain GT Series; in 2018 and 2019 the Huracán GT3 completed a double victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in GTD Class. Lamborghini is the only company in the world to win both of the prestigious races, that are also known as 36 Hours of Florida, in two consecutive years. Another premiere in 2019: The GT3 won the Triple Crown of the Blancpain GT Series with the titles in the categories Overall, Endurance and Sprint. In 2020 Lamborghini celebrated third victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona with sensational one-two finish.
Both the Huracán Super Trofeo and the Huracán GT3 are constructed and built at the plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese on the same production line as the road vehicles. Specialized technicians of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse are present at every station along the line.
Moreover, Lamborghini Squadra Corse is trying to develop new talents in motor sports, for example through the Young Drivers Program (open for drivers under 26 that will compete in the Super Trofeo championship) and the GT3 Junior Program (for future GT drivers). Both the programs aim to offer young drivers the possibility to improve their driving skills helping them to take a career as professional pilots.
In 2018 Squadra Corse inaugurated its first One-Off, the SC18 Alston, followed by open-top SC20 in 2020. In the same year Squadra Corse unveiled Essenza SCV12 the track-only hypercar in a limited edition of 40 units, fitted with the most powerful V12 naturally aspirated engine ever developed by Lamborghini: over 830 hp.
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