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KPAX Takes Dominant Season-Opening Victory at Sonoma Raceway

6 March 2021
  • Caldarelli/Pepper win overall
  • Heylen/Poordad take Pro-Am victory
  • Grunewald/Saada in Am
  • Provisional Results - PDF Link

Sonoma, Calif. - The #3 KPAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Italy’s Andrea Caldarelli and South Africa’s Jordan Pepper took a dominant season-opening Fanatec GT World Challenge America presented by AWS victory at Sonoma Raceway.

"A great job by the team," said Caldarelli, "We were confident the car was going to be good, so we knew we had the pace."

"We've been working on the car really hard this off-season and this is a great result for the team with a 1-2 and that's all we could hope for," said Pepper. 

Leading from pole the Lamborghini duo never put a foot wrong, winning by 14 seconds over teammates Corey Lewis and Giovanni Venturini in the #6 Lamborghini. Early in the race Russell Ward and the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 would pressure 2020 GT4 America Sprint champion Michael Dinan into a mistake running his #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 wide at the final hairpin, allowing Ward to slot into third place overall. 

After the pit window closed for the required driver changes, the #3 KPAX entry, now with Pepper driving, remained in the overall lead with the #77 Compass Racing McLaren atop the Pro-Am starters and #61 AF Corse Ferrari leading in Am.

Compass Racing would unfortunately see an unhappy end come to its first-place position however as an unsecured left-rear wheel would come off the Acura NSX GT3 just six turns into Matt McMurry’s stint, giving the class lead to Jan Heylen’s #20 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Dakota Dickerson and the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura would slot into second position with Ryan Dalziel and the #63 DXDT Mercedes third in class, a half second behind.

The stranded Acura would cause the first full course caution of the day, bunching the field up behind the Lamborghini Urus safety car with 38 minutes left on the clock. At the same time the third-place #33 Mercedes would face an electrical issue, forcing the car to the pits, dropping down the order and out of contention for a podium finish.

The race would get back to green with 28 muntes remaining with the #3 KPAX machine still leading, but with their lead to the #6 Lamborghini and #96 BMW, now with Robby Foley driving, slashed. Heylen's #20 Porsche kept the Pro-Am lead, but would see Dalziel's Mercedes-AMG pass Dickerson's Acura for second position and begin to charge after the class leader.

Foley's BMW magic seemed to run out as with 16 minutes remaining would make contact with a lapped car while navigating traffic and see the #96 machine fall through the order to ninth overall, but still remain third in Pro class positioning. Heylen would inherit the third overall position with Dalziel and Dickerson rounding out the top five where they would ultimately finish.

The hectic pace would settle for the final 10 minutes of the race with Colin Braun's #4 Mercedes-AMG sixth overall, fourth in Pro-Am with Michael Cooper's #19 Mercedes-AMG seventh overall, fifth in Pro-Am.

The #61 AF Corse Ferrari pairing of Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald would take the Am-class victory.

Round 2 of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America presented by AWS season goes green Sunday, March 7th at 1:15 PM local time, live on CBS Sports Channel starting at 4:00pm EST and live streamed on the GT World YouTube Channel, available at gt-world-challenge-america.com/watch-live along with live timing and scoring provided by TSL.