Caldarelli/Pepper sweep GT World Challenge opener for K-PAX

Images courtesy of SRO

Caldarelli/Pepper sweep GT World Challenge opener for K-PAX

SRO America

Caldarelli/Pepper sweep GT World Challenge opener for K-PAX

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The K-PAX Racing No. 3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driver pairing of Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper overcame a poor race start to complete a weekend sweep of the season-opening weekend of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. DXDT Racing’s George Kurtz and Colin Braun (No. 04 Mercedes-AMG GT3) put in a good fight for the overall win but settled for a first in Pro-Am class finish. The No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald finished on top of the Am pair classifications.

Sunny, breezy conditions enveloped Sonoma at the drop of the green flag but there was a dark cloud over the K-PAX camp as their prime pole and P3 positions slipped away quickly before the first turn. P2 qualifier Colin Braun (No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and P4 qualifier Jan Heylen (No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R 991.2) took advantage of the situation and edged forward to the top spots, dropping The K-PAX Lamborghinis of Pepper (No. 3) and P3 Giovanni Venturini (No. 6) as far back as fourth place. More battles commenced for overall position and to get within striking range of the win, including a fight-back run between veteran Ryan Dalziel (No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) and series newcomer Dakota Dickerson (No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3) battling for position and to hold on to the Pro-Am podium spot.

Shortly before the pit window, the No. 77 Compass Racing Acura NSX GT3 came in for an undetermined fuel-related issue that was solved by the team refueling and getting the car back into rotation.

Immediately after the pit window officially opened, the No. 3 K-PAX Lamborghini came into the pit for the mandatory stop and executed an almost-perfect stop that saw them jump out ahead and recover the positions from the bad start.

The AF Corse Ferrari and the No. 9 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Ziad Ghandour and Giacomo Altoe) were issued drive-through penalties for their respective pit lane infractions incurred during the pit stop.

At the close of the pit window, the field leaders had returned to essentially a similar position to the starting grid, each holding their positions for the remainder of the race while a battle for overall position proceeded with Pro-Am class Am-rated Erin Vogel (No. 19 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) defending against Russell Ward (No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3) down to the last turn of the last lap to maintain sixth and seventh overall positions, with the No. 33 car hanging on to the third Pro spot, locking out the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW F13 M6 GT3 (Michael Dinan and Robby Foley) from a podium showing.

Pro-Am competitors Wright Motorsports held on to the podium placement under driver Fred Poordad’s driving of the No. 20 Porsche, while Taylor Hagler brought home the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 for the last spot on the podium.

RESULTS

Highlights of the Sonoma weekend will air on CBS Sports Network premiering on March 17 at 8:30 pm ET. The series next heads to Austin’s Circuit of The Americas on April 30-May 2.

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