K-PAX Racing has made sporadic appearances across the world in its history, and while taking on the challenge of new tracks has always been a goal for the team and a clear vision of Team Owner Jim Haughey, the American brand has been recognized and beloved by fans globally since its humble beginnings. In this year’s 74th running of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, it will again be front-and-center to contest for one of racing’s most coveted titles on arguably the biggest GT racing stages in the world.
“After running this event for the first time in 2020, our goal has always been to come back and compete here again,” K-PAX Racing Program Manager Darren Law said. “This really is the biggest GT3 race in the world, so it is hard to explain to those that haven’t competed in it. It has so many of the best teams and drivers in the world. It is an amazing track and nowhere else do you have over 60 GT3 cars with almost half of which are factory supported. After our debut in 2020 and coming away with a top-10, we are ready to come back and push for a win this year.”
This time is different. Since its last appearance in 2020, the state of the world and even the K-PAX Racing program has undergone considerable changes. To preface this season’s journey to Spa-Francorchamps, the team’s 2020 debut presented a plethora of challenges even before the drop of the green flag. As the sole American team in contention, the team withstood global resistance during a pandemic, and took the necessary steps to be able to reach Belgium safely and successfully. The team’s aspirations of competing overseas were both undying and relentless throughout the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS calendar and into Spa. They made it. It was a rescheduled Autumn edition of the race, and unique for its 25-hour runtime.
The team submitted its name into the largest, most competitive grid it has seen since its formation in 2007. While the task may have been seen as daunting, especially logistically, the team persevered and its prowess from SRO’s sister series in America shined on a global scale — not only completing the race with both its entries, but also earning a top-10 in the Pro category. The team celebrated its feat, but it also served as motivation to improve in its imminent return.
“As I mentioned before, 2020 was a successful outing for us and it is motivation to come back,” Law said. “We learned a lot that year as anyone would during the first time, and we now have a better understanding of the European rules and procedures. We also have a better understanding strategically, so we are much more prepared this time around.”
K-PAX Racing has since teamed up with Lamborghini Squadra Corse, building its program around the Huracán GT3 EVO. In the year following its debut at Spa, the team returned stateside to be crowned as the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS Champions. In its title campaign and debut with Lamborghini, the team was quick on the throttle, winning 11 races in seven events — an eight-hour endurance race at the “Racing Capital of the World” Indianapolis Motor Speedway being one of those victories. While 2021 was virtually perfect, the team has shown even more improvement from last season by sweeping the series’ first three events. The team expects to bring the same professionalism and preparedness that has given them stateside success to Spa.
K-PAX Racing has recruited some of GT3 racing’s most decorated talents for the event: Lamborghini Factory Drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli, as well as proven young-star Jordan Pepper to complete the No. 6 Huracan GT3 EVO line-up. Each driver has prior experience in the event, and Pepper joined the team’s first appearance in 2020. K-PAX Racing also welcomes Orange1 to its Spa operation as a pivotal player in this year’s event.
“Being involved with the Lamborghini factory supported program has made this event far less complex,” Law said. “They are providing a lot of support and it takes some of the load off of us coming from the U.S. It is also great to have additional support from Orange1, and they are bringing a lot of guests so we hope we can deliver for them as well.”
Caldarelli will be making his fifth appearance at Spa – more notably his third alongside Mapelli. Mapelli has experienced great success in the event, as he set the fastest racing lap of the GT3 era (2m18.146s) during the 2020 edition. While Pepper has not joined the Lamborghini Factory Drivers just yet, he has taken part in the team’s championship crusade stateside, helping the team to a 2021 title alongside Caldarelli.
“We had a great test here a few weeks ago,” Law said. “The car was fast, and we worked well with the Lamborghini team. It was definitely a tight schedule traveling here immediately following our Watkins Glen event last weekend, but with Lamborghini Squadra Corse here, they were able to start the load-in and set up before we arrived. That has made the transition easier this time around.”
The stage is set.
For event details, visit totalenergies24hours.com.
Andrea Caldarelli – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “Spa is definitely the toughest and biggest GT3 race in the world. Everyone goes to Spa for one goal and that’s to win. There are so many different situations you can be in between the weather, track conditions, strategies… that’s what makes it special and the reason why I truly love it.
I’ve competed the last three years with Marco [Mapelli], and my first time with Jordan [Pepper] even though we’ve been a driver pairing in America up until the beginning of this year. We’re all different individually, but together, I think we’ll make a great package.
I’m very happy that Orange1 is supporting us this year as well. I’ve been racing with an Orange1 livery for the last five years in this race, so it’s exciting that this year I have the opportunity – this time with new team and different people. The car looks awesome. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful cars on the grid.”
Marco Mapelli – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “This is the hardest GT3 race event in terms of speed and fatigue for the drivers and crew. I’m really looking forward the race with Andrea [Caldarelli] and Jordan [Pepper]. We already worked well during the test days and over some preparation meetings. The team already proved themselves in their abilities as a group and they’ve been working really hard on this event preparation. Here, every small thing makes big difference.”
Jordan Pepper – No. 6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO – “I think Spa in the modern-day of GT3 now is the most competitive worldwide 24-hour, and I’d put it out there as the most competitive 24-hour in general because of the number of Pro entry cars and in other classes as well. It’s so extreme, and it makes the [competition] level so high. Going into my sixth 24 Hours of Spa – my fifth in the Pro class – I hope luck is more on my side. I’ve led the race and been in the hunt, but never finished it leading. We have a great package this year. It’ll be my first time doing it in the Lamborghini, and it should be something very special. I’m back at Spa with K-PAX Racing too, which showed great promise with a 10th place finish in 2020.
All these big endurance races nowadays, the level of drivers is so high, so much where it’s hard to make a difference. So, something I find valuable is your relationship with teammates. The ability to have trust in your teammates is worth more than trying to find one-tenth on the track. You tend to get into a better rhythm – from setup early in the weekend to the race. The relationship I’ve built with Andrea [Caldarelli] over the course of a year-and-a-half – winning the championship in 2021 – we now click very well. We’ve become very good friends off the track and respectable colleagues on it. I think Andrea has that with Marco [Mapelli] which is super important. Andrea is sort of the link between Marco and me. I’ve shared a garage with him in Indy (Indianapolis 8 Hour), but never a car. After the Spa test though, I think Marco and I got on pretty well. The trust is there, and it’s important. It can make the difference against these high-class drivers.”
About K-PAX Racing
Based in Sonoma, Calif., K-PAX Racing has celebrated a total 175 podiums, 71 wins, five Driver Championships, and four Team and Manufacturer Championships, solidifying the team as a continuous championship contender. In the GT Class, K-PAX Racing has fielded Porsche 911 GT3s during the 2007 – 2008 seasons, Volvo S60s during the 2009 – 2013 seasons, McLaren 12C GT3s in 2014 and McLaren 650S GT3s from 2015 – 2017. The team made a switch to Bentley for 2018, fielding the first-generation Continental GT3 in its first season and the second-generation model in 2019 and 2020. K-PAX Racing debuted the 2021 season in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
Already a leader in the production of electric motors, the company’s historic and well-established core business, since 2017 it has also been growing into aluminum die-casting with the new foundry division. In 2018 Orange1 Precision was born to develop high precision mechanics and small parts market. Thanks to this great ability for constant growth and proven solidity, together with the foresight vision of the President Armando Donazzan, Orange1 pursues the goal of becoming a 360-degree partner and supplier of motors and components, a unique interlocutor for diversified products and markets. Leading expertise, a global product portfolio, research, innovation and the ability to think in terms of an integrated system, are empowering the perception of the brand, which is today increasingly competitive. To complete the solid and dynamic reality of the Orange1 world, the company also holds commitment competition with Orange1 Basket and Orange1 Racing.
About Lamborghini Squadra Corse
Squadra Corse is the motorsport department of Automobili Lamborghini. Born in 2013 within the Research & Development department, Squadra Corse provides an integrated approach to driving experiences of the brand; from driving course programs with road vehicles to motorsport competitions, through the Lamborghini Super Trofeo or championships of the GT class.
Esperienza is the first step for those who are interested in the world of Lamborghini: Its aim is to share the thrill and emotions of the super sports cars from Sant’Agata Bolognese with fans and potential customers alike, by advanced driving course programs. Esperienza Dinamica is divided into five programs in order to face every type of surface: Corsa, Neve, Sabbia, Strada, Terra. Esperienza Accademia is the program dedicated to advanced drivers, offering driving course programs not only on the racetrack but also on ice in order to improve the driving skills of the pilots.
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo is an international motor racing series with drivers competing in identical Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVOs, the racing version of the production model, that features the same 5.2 l naturally aspirated V10 engine. Inaugurated in 2009, Super Trofeo hosts regional championships in Europe, Asia and North America and is divided in four categories: Pro, Pro-Am, Am and Lamborghini Cup bringing together passionate gentleman drivers and young professional pilots. At the end of each season, the teams and drivers of all regions compete against each other in the World Finals, the highlight of the season.
The most challenging tests are those which see Lamborghini’s Customer Racing Teams competing in the principal international GT championships driving the Huracán GT3. The GT3 differs from the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO through its more sophisticated aerodynamics, kinematic suspension control and other technical specifications respecting official FIA regulations. In 2017 the Huracán GT3 won the Blancpain GT Series; in 2018 and 2019 the Huracán GT3 completed a double victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in GTD Class. Lamborghini is the only company in the world to win both of the prestigious races, that are also known as 36 Hours of Florida, in two consecutive years. Another premiere in 2019: The GT3 won the Triple Crown of the Blancpain GT Series with the titles in the categories Overall, Endurance and Sprint. In 2020 Lamborghini celebrated third victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona with sensational one-two finish.
Both the Huracán Super Trofeo and the Huracán GT3 are constructed and built at the plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese on the same production line as the road vehicles. Specialized technicians of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse are present at every station along the line.
Moreover, Lamborghini Squadra Corse is trying to develop new talents in motor sports, for example through the Young Drivers Program (open for drivers under 26 that will compete in the Super Trofeo championship) and the GT3 Junior Program (for future GT drivers). Both the programs aim to offer young drivers the possibility to improve their driving skills helping them to take a career as professional pilots.
In 2018 Squadra Corse inaugurated its first One-Off, the SC18 Alston, followed by open-top SC20 in 2020. In the same year Squadra Corse unveiled Essenza SCV12 the track-only hypercar in a limited edition of 40 units, fitted with the most powerful V12 naturally aspirated engine ever developed by Lamborghini: over 830 hp.