Suspension issues thwart K-PAX Racing’s charge at Barcelona finale
K-PAX racing headed to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the weekend (September 30-October 1), hoping to end the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup season on a high.
Unfortunately, the bad luck which has plagued the team and meant results have not reflected the pace or promise throughout the season returned once again, as a suspension issue at the end of the second hour dropped the car out of contention.
Coming into the race, the team battled to bring its Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 into a competitive place, finishing 16th of the Pro Cup cars in Practice, 17th in Pre-Qualifying, and 15th in qualifying – with Sandy Mitchell’s sixth place in Q1 a highlight.
In the three-hour contest itself, Franck Perera started well and kept pace with the main pack, as well as running as the lead Lamborghini in the race, before handing over to Marco who continued to keep with the main pack of cars. However, with both drivers battling understeer and a lack of front-end grip, the team was forced to pit the car to undertake repairs on the front left suspension.
Sandy took the car for the final hour, with the car handling much better, but sadly now two laps down on the leaders, crossing the line 16th in the Pro Cup to cap a dispiriting campaign.
Despite the setbacks, the entire K-PAX Racing team can be proud of its efforts throughout the year, travelling from the United States of America to Europe for each race weekend, working hard, and ultimately having its results affected by things out of its control. The team will now enjoy the off-season and announce its plans for 2024 in due course.
“It’s been a difficult last round. We did quite a good job in qualifying to put the car in P15 because there was a lot of traffic, and it was a tricky session with people going off. In the race, we just didn’t quite have the pace and then in the end, we had an issue with the front left, which was getting worse and worse, so we had to come in for a few minutes to fix the issue. After that the car seemed to go a little bit better, but the damage was done at that point, so there was nothing we could do.
“It’s been a season of what ifs. We’ve shown strong pace to be fighting in the top five, which in this championship is super hard to do, but we just seemed to have something not go our way at each round and with only five races it’s never easy. I think we can be proud of the effort that these guys have put in, coming over from the States with no testing and turning up at each race, as it is not easy to do with this car. To be as fast as we were says a lot about how good they are.”
“We were struggling since Thursday’s testing, lacking some pace and some speed. In the race things were going in the right direction and we were there with the top ten cars and then we had an issue with the front left once I started my stint. The car was very different and the left-hand corner and braking performance was poor. It already is difficult at Barcelona because the grip level is very low, but it was getting worse and worse. I did my best, but the pace was not as we wanted or expected. We didn’t make any mistakes and strategy-wise, if we stopped, the guys did a really good job and gained places every time. It’s a bad way to finish the championship, honestly, but it is like this. You cannot change it.
“It’s been a tough season, because we’ve seen a lot of good things, but we never ended up with a good result. This is painful, because I think everybody’s working pretty hard, coming back and forward to from the US, putting in all the effort, and it’s a shame to not give them at least a podium or a top five result, but this is racing and there is nothing for free. You have to gain everything, and we were not in the position this year.”
“My stint was tough, but I tried to stay with the pack. The pace was not so fast but was solid. I made a good start and was the first of the Lamborghinis, so it was decent, but I couldn’t do much more. I felt the issue with the car straight away and it was acting strange. I told the team that there was huge understeer and I tried to stay with it as best I could.
“It’s a shame. We showed good mentality and good pace for the season, and we were always fighting in a good position. This weekend was tough unfortunately as we had a mechanical issue. It’s a pity for everyone. We showed strong pace for the season, even if it’s not easy as the team isn’t in Europe, but we can be proud of what everyone did.”
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2023: Round Five – Barcelona