Lamborghini keep historic Triple Crown
of Blancpain GT Series at the final round of the season
Lamborghini secured an historic triple crown of Blancpain GT Series titles at the final round of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, as Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli added both the Endurance Cup and Overall series titles to their World Challenge Europe triumphs.
The Orange1 FFF Racing duo took victory in the last Endurance race of the season alongside stand-in team-mate Albert Costa in the #563 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo, beating the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG of Maro Engel and Luca Stolz. Dubbed by Orange 1 FFF Racing team owner Fu Sanyong as "the most important race of the season", the Barcelona weekend began strongly for the #563 crew as International GT Open regular Costa qualified an impressive third on the grid, just one-thousandth of a second behind the points leading Black Falcon.
Costa started the race and briefly held the lead after leapfrogging both the #4 and the polesitting #98 Porsche before the first corner. The #563 was however requested to hand back these two places after gaining an advantage on the grass at the start. Costa then held station in third on the other side of a lengthy safety car period, following a big crash for another Porsche on the opening lap.
All three leaders made their first stops towards the end of the first hour, with Costa handing over to Mapelli. The #563 then moved ahead of the erstwhile leading Porsche as the pair exited the pits, with Mapelli now holding an effective second place behind Stolz's Mercedes. That then became the lead after the second safer car intervention of the afternoon, for the #87 Mercedes.
Mapelli made the most of a better restart to barge his way past the #4 on the exit of Turn 2, having run around the outside down the main straight. The pair made contact but both stayed on the track, with Mapelli moving the #563 Huracán into championship winning position. Mapelli subsequently switched with FFF Racing team principal Caldarelli who completed the race amid constant pressure from the #4.
A late full course yellow and safety car after the #9 Bentley spun off at the exit of Turn 3 meant that there was a five minute dash to the flag. Caldarelli made a perfect restart and led Stolz's Mercedes, who had to defend hard from the #2 WRT Audi R8. While Caldarelli escaped out at the front, Audi driver dived down the inside of Stolz at Turn 1 and spun the Mercedes into the gravel trap as the pair went into Turn 3, all but ending the title fight on the last lap.
That allowed FFF to breathe a sigh of relief, as Caldarelli and Mapelli secured not only the Overall title but the Endurance crown as well, after early dramas for the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari of David Rigon, Mikhail Aleshin and Miguel Molina. There was also a third reason to celebrate for Lamborghini, as FFF Racing also secured the Team's championship title as well.