Lamborghini remains unbeaten in the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS season following another double victory for K-PAX Racing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Lamborghini Factory Driver Andrea Caldarelli and team-mate Jordan Pepper claimed the third consecutive victory for the #3 car in a rain-affected opener, while fellow Factory Driver Giovanni Venturini and Corey Lewis took the sister #6 car to its first win of the year in Race 2 following a last-lap pass on Pepper.
The weekend began under clear skies for free practice, with the TR3 Motorsport Huracán GT3 Evo of another Factory Driver, Giacomo Altoè setting the third fastest time in FP1 and the second-best time in FP2. Come qualifying, it was the #3 of Pepper which claimed pole position, beating team-mates Venturini and Corey Lewis by just under half a second.
Pepper started the race in the #3 car but initially lost out to the BMW M6 of Michael Dinan, before eventually retaking the lead inside the opening five minutes. Venturini had slipped behind the BMW as well and endured a tricky race after encountering a mechanical issue in the #6 Huracán. Before long, the rain started to fall, and conditions quickly became increasingly difficult to manage. The field elected to stay out on their slick Pirelli tyres until the pit window opened before switching to wet tyres. Pepper stayed out a lap later than those behind and the #3 maintained its advantage out front once the South African swapped with Caldarelli.
Caldarelli was then able to keep a safe margin at the head of the field, despite the competition being a lot closer in pace than seen during the opening weekend of the season in Sonoma. Unfortunately, the rain intensified so much that the race officials had no other option but to throw the full course yellow, which eventually led to the stoppage of the race with just over nine minutes remaining.
Sunday’s second race of the weekend was run in completely dry conditions, but both Caldarelli and Lewis had to fight their way through the field after struggling in qualifying. Lewis made ground early on as Altoè was the leading Lamborghini in fourth – which became second just before the pit window opened. Caldarelli endured a difficult opening lap and was hit by several cars in the first three corners and dropping all the way down to 13th by the end of the first lap.
The recovery was, however, sensational and by the time he handed over to Pepper, Caldarelli had taken the #3 Huracán to sixth overall and third in the Pro class. Pepper, once in the car, continued the progression towards the podium and benefitted from a full course yellow – for debris on the track – to mount an attack for the lead as the race entered the final 20 minutes. Victory had looked like being Pepper’s but Venturini overtook his team-mate under braking for Turn 12 on the final lap to snatch the win
The TR3 Motorsport Huracán of Altoè and Ziad Ghandour finished third in the Pro-Am class in Race 1 but faded after the pit-stop in the second race, having run comfortably inside the top four early on. The Zelus Motorsport duo of Jason Harward and Madison Snow added a strong fourth place in Race 2 to its Race 1 fifth, to boost their Pro-Am points score.
Top five finishes in Italian GT Championship opener at Monza
Meanwhile, across the pond in Italy, Lamborghini enjoyed a promising start to the Italian GT Championship season with a pair of top five finishes in the opening Sprint Cup race of the year at Monza.
Imperiale Racing’s new partnership of Alex Frassinetti and Luca Ghiotto recorded two fourth places, while the LP Racing combination of Jonathan Cecotto and Pietro Perolini put in a strong performance and benefitted from penalties in front of them to finish Race 1 on the podium in third.
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe racer Daan Pijl and Fabio Vairani were the stars of the weekend as they took GT Cup class victory in Race 1, often mixing it with the top GT3 Pro-Am runners.