K-PAX Racing Curtails Watkins Glen Woes with Podium Finish
No. 1 Battles to Second in Finale
K-PAX Racing has long been the team to beat for many GT3 teams in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS paddock – 11 straight races from the team’s September sweep at Watkins Glen International last season. The win streak put a target on the team, and while it has enjoyed the taste of champagne and victory at the top of the podium each event since that initial sweep, K-PAX Racing was faced with a more challenging stop at “The Glen” for Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2022 championship.
The seventh round of series action did not go as planned, as the team’s two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs finished just shy of the class podium in fourth and fifth. The adversity was unrelenting into the event finale, as electrical issues and on-track damage added some wrinkles to the hopes of having a smooth run. The team withstood the hard-hitting difficulties however, earning a second-place finish with its No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
The No. 1 continued its campaign despite enduring those electrical issues. Late in the race, Michele Beretta was able to hold steadily in third, until a class competitor ahead of him suffered issues of its own. K-PAX Racing was able to improve its position to second in the Pro class, also having a comfortable advantage over its class competitors to finish runner-up, despite a left-rear puncture in the closing minutes that forced an unplanned pit.
“It was a very challenging weekend for K-PAX Racing,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “But that’s racing. When we’ve been as dominant as we’ve had for so long, and to have an ‘off’ weekend like we’ve had with this one, it’s disappointing. We need to put everything into perspective. We can’t be at the top all the time.”
“It’s unfortunate. The No. 3 car was very fast, qualifying on the front row, and we just had a mechanical issue that took us out. I feel like we got a bit lucky with the No. 1 car. We also had some electrical issues there that we were fighting all weekend. Other teams had misfortunes too, so to come away with second-place points is good.”
There were multiple high points in the team’s weekend performance. Beretta was quick on the accelerator to kick-off qualifying for the opening seventh round, climbing the charts very early in the abbreviated 15-minute session. The field eventually was brought up to speed, and Beretta’s pole-setting run was threatened momentarily – until he posted the only time of the session under the 1:45.000 threshold. Beretta helped K-PAX Racing to its fourth consecutive event where the No. 1 started on pole with a time of 1:44.950.
Another highlight takes into account more than one decade of intermittent series stops at The Glen. In the team’s last five appearances at Watkins Glen International since 2010, it has recorded at least one podium finish. K-PAX Racing has earned 12 podiums in the last four events between its two Huracán GT3 EVOs and has recorded at least one in every event since its shift to Lamborghini.
K-PAX Racing had an opportunity to help inspire racing’s future, as it welcomed SAE International programs based in Western New York. More than 15 students from Rochester Institute of Technology (Formula SAE, Baja SAE) and Cornell University (Formula SAE) joined the team in the garages and in pit-lane, learning about race preparation and operation.
“It was amazing,” said Mechanical Engineering Junior Sam Georgal, who is a chassis designer on the RIT Formula SAE team. “Bringing our team here really opened our eyes up to what it’s like to work in the industry and to be at the track. It’s really an invaluable experience to the entire team, to learn and get involved in this sport.”
“I learned how much hard work, time and effort goes into each day and making sure everything goes to plan. K-PAX Racing works around the clock to ensure they get the best results they possibly can, and it’s nice to see that. It puts into perspective what’s ahead of me if I choose to go down this path of motorsports. I’m excited for it.”
K-PAX Racing will return to series action August 19-21 at Road America (Wisc.). Visit gt-world-challenge-america.com for more event information.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “It was good for the points. However, it was one of the toughest weekends we’ve had in two years. We need to find out what went wrong because we were definitely struggling. We were a couple of seconds off the pace. I’m sure the guys will figure out something before Road America. I tried to do my best, but I couldn’t improve for Michele [Beretta]. He did a good job in staying calm and pushing.”
Michele Beretta – No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – 2nd) – “Qualifying was a good session and we managed to have a good lap, but if we look at the bigger picture, our pace was not good compared to some of our competitors. We need to figure out what was missing from this weekend, because last weekend (testing at Watkins Glen International) we had good pace. Maybe this high-level grip track is not fitting for our car. We need to come back, look at the data and find that extra speed for next time.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 5th) – “It was a weekend full of promise, and nothing came from it in the end. Unfortunately, two races and two issues that took us out of contention. The first race it was very early-on in Misha (Goikhberg)’s stint in good position and the second race it was the same for me from second. It was super frustrating. We got some points, but it was a weekend when we should have been able to capitalize on everyone’s mistakes for the win. I’m proud of how Misha drove – he took some very big steps this weekend. We showed good pace, but it’s not good enough if we want to contend for the championship. Let’s see if we can regroup and recover for Road America.”
Misha Goikhberg – No. 3 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – 5th) – “It was a very frustrating weekend, especially given that other competitors had problems. So, we could have had a strong result. We’ll investigate and come back stronger for Road America.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 175 podiums, 71 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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2023: Round Five – Barcelona