Jordan Pepper said he’s aiming to go from “strength to strength” with K-PAX Racing and Lamborghini heading into the second round of Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS competition this weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
The South African and co-driver Andrea Caldarelli enter the COTA event with a 14-point lead in the Pro championship following a sweep of the overall weekend in the season-opener at Sonoma Raceway last month.
It came in the first outing with Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo machinery and nearly an entirely new driver lineup for the California-based team, which is making its full season GTWC America return after a year in Europe.
For Pepper, who drove for K-PAX in GTWC Europe as well as last year’s Indianapolis 8 Hour, learning new tracks, including the 3.4-mile COTA, has been one of his biggest challenges, especially with the series’ new compressed weekend schedules.
“This year is going to be a challenge for me because every single circuit is brand new,” he said.
“I have taken a lot of time to do simulator prep, and I feel comfortable with the track and know it as best as I can on the sim. Let’s see how it compares in real-life, but normally it’s pretty accurate and it’s a good tool that I like to use.
“I think the Lamborghini is a good ‘all-around’ car, so I believe that we’re going to be strong at Circuit of The Americas.”
While having completed a test at its home track since the Sonoma sweep, K-PAX is one of the few GTWC America teams that did not get any pre-event mileage at COTA.
Pepper, however, believes the team’s previous knowledge of the circuit when it campaigned Bentleys and McLarens will pay dividends.
“The team has done a great job in going through all the collected data, so I feel like we’ll show up with a well-suited package for Circuit of The Americas based on previous years and the knowledge they have gained now,” Pepper said.
“What made us so successful [at Sonoma] is that we remained calm, we worked open-mindedly, and we were all able to share information back and forth together. I think that’s what makes our package a step above the rest.
“If we keep that momentum and mentality, we’re going to keep going strength to strength.”
COTA will also be a new track for co-driver Caldarelli, who is prioritizing his GTWC America commitments over an initially planned run in the Nürburgring 24 this year with FFF Racing Team, which he serves as team manager.
The Lamborghini factory driver said he believes COTA will suit the Huracan GT3 Evo, particularly in the third sector.
“It was great start of the season in Sonoma,” Caldarelli said. “It was good motivation for all of us and team that worked really hard to put together the cars just received and go straight into race weekend.
“We definitely need to try to repeat the California weekend.
“Everything worked well because I believe we all have the same goal. With this in mind, it is easier to work together and help each other on taking the right decisions to grow up stronger as team.”
Three of Four Drivers Lacking COTA Experience
Out of K-PAX’s four-driver squad, only Corey Lewis has previous race experience at the home of the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, which could add a new dynamic to the weekend with the lack of a Thursday promoter test day.
“I did some sim last week and it looks challenging,” said Lewis’ co-driver Giovanni Venturini. “It will be my first time there, so I can’t wait to jump in the car.
“At Sonoma the team did an amazing job, considering it was the first weekend with Lamborghini and with a completely new driver line up. The team was really good and calm to understand where to improve. They took all the data very seriously.
“This is the way to be winners at the end of the season.”