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K-PAX Racing Continues GTWC America Dominance At VIR

VIR Race 2

Andrea Caldarelli and Michele Beretta celebrate K-PAX Racing’s 11th straight victory in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

Similar to Saturday’s Race 1, K-PAX Racing was untouchable on Sunday as Michele Beretta and Andrea Caldarelli’s No. 1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 conquered this weekend’s pair of Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS races at Virginia International Raceway.

K-PAX completed the VIR sweep, leaving the state of Virginia with a perfect record and winning all six races so far this season. This is also the organization’s 11th consecutive Pro class victory, a streak that started the previous season.

“I think we did a perfect job again with the strategy,” Beretta. “The pit call, the pit stop, there was fighting in the beginning but he (Caldarelli) did a great job keeping towards the front. I don’t think it was a very fun stint for him (Caldarelli) with all of the long safety cars.

“But my stint was fairly clear and it felt good in the car. Our main competitors were struggling a bit more, and we just all did a great job again.”

Program Manager Darren Law referred to the Lamborghini team’s impressive winning streak as “unprecedented.” SRO GT3 competition is super competitive worldwide and K-PAX is the only team under the SRO umbrella able to achieve this level of pure dominance.

“The cars were flawless, so thanks to Lamborghini for their support as always,” Law said.

To say the least, it’s been an all-Lamborghini world and the rest of the manufacturers are just living in it. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

The only difference between Race 1 and Race 2 was Beretta starting the race and handing the car over to Caldarelli on Saturday, while Caldarelli had the honor of starting on Sunday with Beretta driving the Lamborghini to the checkered flag.

As the race approached the final 10 minutes, it seemed like the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 was going to pull off an impressive Pro-Am class win, after the car was heavily damaged in Race 1. The team repaired the damage and got the car to the grid as Mario Farnbacher started on the pole.

Racers Edge Motorsports were minutes away from winning in Pro-Am until a costly mistake by Ashton Harrison dropped them to sixth in class. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

Farnbacher handed the car over to his co-driver Ashton Harrison, who was setting a good pace and in control of the race. However, with seven minutes to go, Harrison made a mistake that ultimately cost her team a VIR victory.

Harrison drove over a curb which unsettled her Acura, then went off track into the grass and spun right before getting onto the frontstretch. The No. 93 Acura sat there helplessly while the No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 drove by to steal the Pro-Am win. Colin Braun and George Kurtz were the big winners in Pro-Am after capitalizing on Harrison’s mistake.

Colin Braun and George Kurtz were victorious in Pro-Am on Sunday afternoon at Virginia International Raceway. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

“You just gotta hang around and hopefully you get lucky,” Kurtz said.

“She (Harrison) drove a great race, so we just took advantage of the off and kept it super clean and consistent. The CrowdStrike/Riley guys gave me a fantastic car, I love this track.”

Along with the Pro-Am victory, Braun and Kurtz finished second overall behind K-PAX Racing, 28 seconds back.

Meanwhile, the Am class winners had no competition because the only other car they were competing against crashed in Race 1 and didn’t make it to the grid on Sunday. That means the No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3, Charlie Scardina and Onofrio Triarsi had two chill days at VIR en route to victory.

“Overall it was a great weekend for us, we did a great job and a lot of things look positive moving forward,” Scardina said.

The Triarsi Competizione Ferrari had an easy weekend, scoring two Am class victories. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

The No. 43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX GT3 had a huge shunt with 1 hour and 9 minutes left on the clock. Michael Cooper was behind the wheel when he went off course into the tire barriers, causing heavy damage to his Acura.

Cooper’s co-driver Erin Vogel said her teammate had a brake failure so he was basically a passenger along for the ride. The No. 88 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Madison Snow was also involved in this incident.

Only four minutes into the second 90-minute event of the weekend, the full-course caution arrived when the No. 91 Zelus Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Corey Lewis went off course and he was unable to rejoin the action.

Sunday wasn’t kind to Zelus Motorsports as both of their Lamborghinis ran into issues and ultimately ended up retiring from the race.

Following a multi-car wreck in Saturday’s race, the 19-car grid shrunk a little bit with only 17 starters on Sunday. The No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 and No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 suffered too much damage to race on Sunday.

VIR Race 1

At the end of the day on Saturday in Virginia, K-PAX Racing remained perfect in 2022 with five consecutive wins to start off the season. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

On Saturday afternoon at Virginia International Raceway, K-PAX Racing’s No. 1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 dominated the day from pole position as Andrea Caldarelli and Michele Beretta scored the organization’s fifth straight Pro Class victory this season in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS in the first five races.

“The start was intense with all of the fighting at the front,” Caldarelli said. “We knew that it was going to be a very hard race because we were struggling on pace a bit, as we saw this morning in qualifying.

“But we did some setup changes, and it was quite a lot better. We are here to improve all the time, and I think we took some steps forward.”

K-PAX won the first race of the weekend at VIR by a large margin of 17.5 seconds over the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 of Michael Dinan and Robby Foley.

Completing the podium in third overall and winning in Pro-Am, Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill enjoyed class honors for Triarsi Competizione’s No. 13 Ferrari 488 GT3.

“What a step forward for everyone, the team, Justin, and even myself trying to figure out this Ferrari,” Dalziel said.

“He did a heck of a job at the start and I had to stay in front and not mess up too bad.”

For the most part, it was smooth sailing for Caldarelli and Beretta. However, the closest challenge came from Loris Spinelli’s No. 6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3.

With about 30 minutes left, Spinelli closed the gap to Caldarelli to 3.2 seconds until the worst possible thing happened. Spinelli got too aggressive, dropped a wheel into the grass and made an impact with a tire barrier.

Although he was out of contention for the win after this mistake from pushing too hard, Spinell still managed to bring US RaceTronics home to a fourth-place result in the Pro class and eighth overall.

There was a heavy crash with 1 hour and 16 minutes to go at VIR when Ashton Harrison’s No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 crashed into the back of Samantha Tan, who was behind the wheel of the No. 38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 at the time.

Samantha Tan’s weekend at VIR ended prematurely, after getting taken out in a crash on Saturday. (Photo: Nicholas Wetherbee | The Podium Finish)

Then, Tan got hit in the rear by Jean-Claude Saada in the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3. The Acura, BMW and Ferrari ended up being the only retirements of the race.

With the Am class only having two cars entered, AF Corse’s early exit after six laps of running led to an easy class victory for the No. 23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 and its co-drivers, Charlie Scardina and Onofrio Triarsi.

“The team did a phenomenal job giving us a great car,” Triarsi said.

“Charlie at the start of his race did a great job staying up front, and we maintained the pace and stayed clean the whole race.”

The first full-course caution of the race occurred with 1 hour and 21 minutes remaining when Ziad Ghandour’s No. 9 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 got off course into the grass and spun out. Ghandour restarted the race in 18th overall after the incident in the 19-car field.

Later on, Ghandour handed the car over to co-driver Giacomo Altoe, who was able to ease the pain of Ghandour’s on-track mistake to bring the TR3 Racing Lamborghini to a strong fourth-place finish in the Pro-Am class and sixth overall.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Freelance Editor at NASCAR Digital Media and Multimedia Producer at GRID Network

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