Electrical glitch hampers K-PAX Racing’s charge at 24 Hours of Spa
K-PAX Racing suffered once again from the bad luck that has plagued the team’s Fanatec GT Europe Endurance Cup season, as a late electrical problem dropped the car down the order at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.
Having comfortably run in fourth place as the sun rose, an unfortunate issue in the final hours of the 75th running of race ruled the K-PAX Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 out of contention, causing the car to lose seven laps.
Off the back of a strong performance at Circuit Paul Ricard where the team and its Pro driver line up demonstrated impressive race pace, hopes were high for a good result in the twice round the clock classic.
Drivers Marco Mapelli, Sandy Mitchell, and Franck Perera did their job in qualifying, combining to finish 17th quickest overall in tricky, mixed weather conditions as rain started to fall with increasingly intensity throughout, with the result a fully wet finish in Q4, keeping the drivers on their toes.
That result meant taking part in the 20-car Super Pole session, with Franck putting in a superb performance to initially top the times. When all was said and done, his time had been bettered but the team would line up a very respectable fourth on the grid and in a position to attack from the very beginning.
Race day was clouded by the tragic death of a young single-seater driver earlier in the day, with the organizers scrapping pre-race festivities in honor of his memory. As the track remained wet from the heavy rain that fell in the morning, the race started behind the Safety Car for five laps.
Franck drove an assured opening stint, always running in the top seven, before handing over to Marco who was hampered by a 30-second time penalty for track limits offenses – something which would trouble much of the 70-car field.
As the drivers rotated double stints during the evening and night, the trio remained in and around the top ten overall, battling Full Course Yellows and Safety Cars as rivals came unstuck on track. As daylight returned to the Belgian Ardennes, things continued to look positive, but disaster struck after 21 hours of racing.
The team, noticing a loss of battery power, called the car into the pit lane and back into the garage, thinking it had an alternator problem but identified the problem as a broken electrical wire.
Once it was replaced, the car went back out to finish the race, but having lost seven laps, the chances for success were sadly gone. Running faultlessly to the flag thereafter, the car crossed the line 29th overall, but it was a tough result for the team to take after so much hard work by everyone involved.
There will be a chance of redemption in just a few weeks’ time however, as the next round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup takes place at the famous Nürburgring in Germany over the weekend of July 29/30.
“Spa is always a crazy race, and the parade is always a really cool event. It was nice that I got to drive the car down into the town and see all the fans by the side of the road. We had a really strong qualifying, starting P4 after an amazing effort from Franck there.
“We put ourselves on the backfoot at times in the race and had to drag ourselves back up, but we did an amazing job. My stints were all very clean, with no contact, not many track limit warnings, and I managed to claw back some positions every time, which was a good feeling.
“To have had some penalties like we had but still end up on the lead lap with a few hours to go is pretty amazing. We showed some really good pace at times, so we can be proud of that. I feel like it was arguably one of the best races that I’ve done even though the result doesn’t show it. “
“It’s been a tough week. It was good that we got a good qualifying and into Super Pole, as we’ve showed great pace so far this season. I think we had the pace to be in the top eight but unfortunately, we had a technical issue. We all fought a lot, and it was tough but that’s Spa.
“I think the track limits situation was a bit of a surprise, because in the past it was a bit too open and now it was a bit too much the other way. I believe when you fight with someone, and you lose aerodynamics, it’s not that you are cheating. Everybody worked hard and everybody did a great job. I hope we’re going to have a successful result in the last two races of the season, because I think we deserve something.”
“It was very tough because we had the pace for a top five. We didn’t have the outright pace and BoP for a fight against the winning car, but I believe with the right strategy and without the mistakes we made with the track limits we could have been P4. We regained what we lost with the penalties, but at the end a mechanical issue took us out of contention.
“Nevertheless, I think we did a good job, and we had a balanced car. We were missing a bit of performance when we were fighting with other cars, but when we were alone, I think we had the right performance, so this is something we need to understand and work on. We were not the quickest, but we are not also far away.”
Darren Law – Team Manager
“Overall, we are very proud of our performance. I honestly believe that we should and could have finished at least in the top five because we had a great car. We had some infractions that took us back early on, but by sunup Sunday morning we were fighting up in the top five and were in a good position.
“Unfortunately, we had an electrical issue that sidelined the car. We saw on telemetry that we were losing battery power, so we thought we had an alternator. When we pulled in and brought it into the garage, we found an electrical wire that had broken, so luckily, we got it fixed and were able to finish the race, but that pretty much took us out of the running.
“Other than that, we had the car, and we had the crew, and we really had a good program and a solid effort. Everybody works really hard. We’ve done this race for a couple years now, so we all felt comfortable and our pitstops were fast. It’s just it’s racing, I guess, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. We just need a little luck.”
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