K-PAX Racing’s Caldarelli and Pepper take both wins at GT America at Sonoma in dominant fashion



 OtojatimID– Lamborghini kicked off the defence of its Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS title in the best possible fashion at Sonoma Raceway as K-PAX Racing’s Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper secured a double victory. The #1 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO was the class of the field in the opening 90-minute encounter from pole position while Race 2 was won thanks to quick pit-work from the team following a hard-fought battle in the opening stint.

Lamborghini Factory Driver Caldarelli and Pepper started the weekend by setting the fastest time in the first practice session on Friday, posting a time of 1m36.241s, some half a second quicker than the second-placed car. The #1 was unbeatable in the second session as well, going just two-tenths slower than in FP1, with the margin to the nearest competition standing at a quarter of a second. Qualifying on Saturday morning was a wet affair, with conditions tricky to master across the field. Pepper took the wheel in the first of two segments and took pole position with a sensational lap to go a massive 3.594s faster than the Winward Mercedes, although the conditions had deteriorated significantly following the South African driver’s lap. Behind, the sister #3 K-PAX Racing car of Misha Goikhberg qualified fifth on the grid for the first race. In the second qualifying, Caldarelli put the #1 second on the grid, just over a tenth of a second behind the pole-sitting Mercedes, with the #3 of Giacomo Altoè right behind in third. 

By the time the race started, the track had completely dried out and Pepper led away from the rolling start, quickly building a comfortable advantage over the chasing pack. The #1’s dominance was evident inside the opening quarter of an hour, in which Pepper had established a gap of nearly 17s. Pepper then handed over to Caldarelli at the mandatory driver-change pit-stop, and the lack of full course yellow periods enabled the latter to not only maintain the lead but extend it even further. The victory margin in the end ballooned to 51.88s over the Mercedes of Philip Ellis and Russell Ward.

Caldarelli maintained his second place at the start of Race 2, staving off the attentions of Altoè at the first corner and subsequently setting the fastest lap as he chased the leading Mercedes of Loris Spinelli. Altoè was embroiled in a lively fight for third place with the Acura in front and Mercedes behind and ran fourth following a minor off-track moment at the chicane. At the front, Caldarelli stalked Spinelli approaching the end of the first half an hour but could not find a way past the Mercedes. The Lamborghini was quicker in the corners and nearly got into the lead at the final hairpin several times. Eventually, Caldarelli elected to wait until the stops and, with Pepper now at the wheel, the #1 emerged in the lead. Pepper had to deal with a safety car intervention with 35 minutes to go but managed to build a margin of 21.753 seconds to sweep the weekend. Completing the podium after a sterling drive in the #3 Huracán was Altoè and Goikhberg.