Points and prizes for K-PAX at Nuburgring but podium proves elusive
K-Pax Racing headed to the famous Nürburgring in Germany at the weekend (July 29/30) for the penultimate round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup, with solid performances and a top ten finish.
The weekend started in winning style, as Sandy Mitchell claimed victory in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race on Friday evening, bringing the team into title contention with one race left to run, while also adding four points to its overall standings tally.
Having tested for two days in largely dry conditions, the team were met with heavy rain at the start of qualifying on Sunday morning. Sandy was the first in the car and did well to find space on track and set the third fastest time after a mid-session red flag and the rain intensified.
Marco Mapelli then took over and then had to contend with greasy conditions as the track began to dry. Frack Perera ran in the final session where, with the track drying more and more, the last lap would be the fastest. The Frenchman delivered a time good enough to put the teams Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 on the third row of the grid for the three-hour race, lining up in sixth place.
When the lights went out Franck charged into the first corner on the outside, but carnage erupted just in front of him. With cars on both sides, he was bounced around but did well to avoid major damage. Unfortunately, he lost six places in the chaos, but began to pick off his rivals, pitting after the first hour to hand over to Marco in tenth place.
Mixing it with the main pack, Marco drove well but in the dirty air behind his rivals, found it tough to pass. However, he was able to make a brave move on Nick Yelloly, diving up the inside at turn one and finishing the move around the outside of two.
Handing over to Sandy for the final hour of the race, the Scot was able to make the most of the performance in the car to gain three places, running as high as seventh, until he ran wide passing a backmarker and dropping two places to cross the line in ninth place.
The prize and points gained in the race, together with the those won by Sandy in the Esports race, mean the team leaves content with the weekend’s result. After finishing the fastest Lamborghini in the field, and enduring some bad luck this year, every team member will be pushing to get a podium finish in the final race of the season, at Barcelona at the end of September.
“There was a big mess in front of Frank at the start, but he was able to get through without damaging the car. We had the same issue as we did at the beginning of the year, when we are behind other cars we are stuck, as it’s so difficult to overtake power-wise. This is the only issue at the moment because the team has improved in the pit stops, the car is well balanced, and we can manage the tires through the stints.
“I think we proved again that we can do our job well, the problem is we cannot fight with the others at the moment. It’s just a matter of understanding how we can improve the performance on overtaking and make some more progress during the races. At least we’re still the first Lambo like all the season so far.”
“It was a crazy race. After the mess at the first corner, we got our heads down and started moving forward. Like all season, our pace was quite strong, and we were able to make some progress and I managed to get up into P7 in my stint, which would have been P6 due to a penalty in front of us. We were battling like crazy with some backmarkers and unfortunately, the blue flags didn’t really do their job properly, and I ended up making a small mistake, which meant we ran wide and lost two or three positions. It happens sometimes when we’re pushing on the limit.
“In the end, it was great to get inside the top ten and ensure that we had good pace to probably be running inside the top five. It was just a shame about the start and small mistake at the near the end, which meant we didn’t finish quite inside the top five like we deserved. I had a pretty successful Esports weekend, so I can definitely take that away, and I think the experience was useful then going into the real race as well.”
“We had quite a solid weekend and we have shown that we are there since the beginning of the season. The start was quite chaotic. I tried to avoid the huge crash and got hit on all sides but fortunately, I could continue, and I could then pass some cars after the first few corners, but turn one really was a big mess.
“I was really disappointed to get blocked by backmarkers. It’s not normal that different categories and the same car block like this, which meant we lost so much time. The team did an amazing job with the pit stops and everything and the car was good when we were alone. It’s a shame we lost positions at the end, but we were again the best Lambo. We can leave confident, and I hope we’ll get at least a podium for the last race.”
Darren Law, Program Manager
This was a great result and our best of the season. Everyone on the team did a fantastic job, we ran well and were inside the top 10 all weekend. Because of the chaos in the first corner at the start of the race we got a bit behind but good execution by everyone kept us in the top 10. We are looking forward to the final round at Barcelona in September.
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