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K-PAX Racing Closer to Perfection at Sonoma
Decisive team win in debut with Lamborghini Squadra Corse
Two weeks prior to the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS opener, K-PAX Racing found itself in a position it had not seen since 2018. The team gathered at Thunderhill Raceway Park some-100 miles North of its home base for a shakedown test of its new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO fleet, complemented by three of four drivers who were newcomers to the team’s winning culture in the series.
Followed by a two-day shakedown run, the team returned home for valuable track-time at its home-track, Sonoma Raceway, where it would open the season in less than one week. While preparation for a fast-approaching season was swift, so was the team’s strong resurgence into the series. K-PAX Racing was able to show its speed and bring its tradition of excellence back to where it began – the constant in an equation built for success. The team opened the season, earning a one-two result and one-step closer to finishing at the top of each chart throughout the race week.
“We’re super excited,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “The guys drove very well, the team did a great job, and we have to thank Chris Ward and everyone at Lamborghini for helping put this whole program together. Also, hats off to Jim Haughey because without him, none of this would have been possible. It was a solid race, with no mistakes – the pit-stops and everything was executed the right way. It’s a great way to start the season.”
While K-PAX Racing has been no stranger to success on its home turf – 14 podiums and four victories since its first appearance in 2011 – the introduction to a new manufacturer in Lamborghini Squadra Corse backed by new drivers would seem to bring a challenge. The team was a quick-study alongside drivers and engineers with Squadra Corse, as it quickly returned to championship form – as seen in four title campaigns under the series since 2007.
In Friday’s two practice sessions, K-PAX Racing stood up-top the standings in each. Both its Huracán GT3 EVOs finished first and second – one of its entries being the only car of the day to record a time under 1:37.000. The No. 3 of Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper were the quickest of each session, topping the charts with a 1:36.798 and in an abbreviated second practice, a best time of 1:37.700. The No. 6, piloted by Giovanni Venturini and Corey Lewis, closely followed with a 1:37.207 and a 1:37.738 to finish out the team’s day as an initial front-runner.
The pair carried a perfect practice performance into qualifying, where the team continued to show its prowess. K-PAX Racing completed a sweep of the pole in its No. 3 entry – Caldarelli in the first group recorded a 1:36.186 and Pepper with a 1:36.026 in the second. The No. 6 earned the opportunity to share the front-row with its sister-car in the opener, as Lewis qualified second with a 1:36.877. Venturni recorded a third-best 1:36.499 for the No. 6 in the final group, starting both Huracán GT3 EVOs in podium position for both rounds of series action. In the first group, both the No. 3 and No. 6 were the only two of the group to record a time under 1:38.000 – earning its starting positions decisively by nearly a two-second gap.
“Mega job by the drivers,” Law said. “Also, hats off to the team, because it shows how strong this operation is switching brands this year. We put in our time with testing, did the work and it was a great qualifying result. We have been really happy with the progress we made.”
It had been a nearly one year since K-PAX Racing competed under the 90-minute, two-driver race format after a full 2020 campaign in GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. The K-PAX Racing Lamborghinis led the field into the green flag once again – and reminiscent of dominant performances in past seasons, began to pull away from the pack in short time after a clean start. The No. 3 was able to average about a three-second extension of its gap from third position for the opening 10 laps – the No. 3 separated by about seven seconds over the No. 6 and the No. 6 car more than 24 seconds ahead of the next car in line and on the verge of lapping the field. Caldarelli has consistently set the quickest laps of race week, which he was able to do as the first driver to break under the 1:39.000 mark (1:38.531) by this stage in the race. His record lap stood, earning him the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap Award.
K-PAX Racing was able to gap the field by 50 seconds ahead of the mandatory driver changes at about the 45-minute mark – halfway point – of the race. Caldarelli was substituted for Pepper, and Venturini for Lewis to finish-out the team’s opening campaign. The final stints began under full-course yellow conditions, the first of the race, which regrouped the field – subsequently diminishing the team’s major lead. The K-PAX Racing cars were able to benefit from a clean restart, while Pepper quickly jumped to a three-second advantage. Venturini, sandwiched by lapped traffic on the restart, was still able to manage a two-second spread over third position.
The two K-PAX Racing cars had the field lapped with roughly 10 minutes remaining, allowing clean passage to the checkers – a one-two finish for the team, and its first since the 2019 season finale when it secured a team championship title (Las Vegas Motor Speedway). K-PAX Racing could complete a total weekend sweep during Sunday’s Round 2 finale, scheduled for 1:15 p.m. (PT). Live coverage can be found at the GTWorld YouTube channel.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “We worked pretty hard during the tests, and we knew where we needed to be with this track – the layout and the temperature. I think the key was to not try and invent something crazy, but to just keep it together – feel the car, drive it and adapt our driving styles to the track. The track is very tricky, especially the grip level. It can confuse you, but the guys gave us great advice. That was the key point – don’t reinvent the car every session, and the car has had great results all week.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 1st) – “Andrea [Caldarelli] built up an incredible lead at the start – clean air out front and checked out. He settled into a great rhythm. The car was really good – no issues there – and out pit-stop was very smooth. I went back out and there was a yellow for like the first five laps, and the restart bunched things up. I took it cautious the first few laps to make sure the tires were back up to temperature and that the pick-up was gone. Then I cracked into it and opened up a decent lead until letting off a bit toward the end so we didn’t have any issues. The sister-car did a great job too. Dreams start for us, and let’s see if we can take a clean sweep all season.”
Giovanni Venturini – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 2nd) – “The restart was a bit of a nightmare with the lapped cars, but we were able to finish second, which is a great result for the team. I’m really happy for the guys. Congratulations to Andrea [Caldarelli] and Jordan [Pepper] on the victory. K-PAX Racing and Lamborghini want to win. Today we deserve it because of the work we have put in.”
Corey Lewis – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 2nd) – “The initial start was actually uneventful. Andrea [Caldarelli] and I just sort of took off, and I tried to stay in his tire tracks the first few laps to get in a groove. The goal was to be as consistent as possible and I think as a team, a one-two finish is awesome. We can try to make the car better tomorrow, to gain more points for this championship. [The start] was fair game. I’ve raced with Andrea a fair amount, so I know we would have given each other room. If the door was open, I would have taken it but it’s early in the championship, and we need to look at the long-haul and gaining points for the team.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 150 podiums, 60 wins, four Driver Championships and three 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 will debut 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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