FFF Racing secure Blancpain Pro-Am category title
FFF Racing’s Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli gave Lamborghini its first Blancpain GT title as the inaugural World Challenge Europe season came to a close in dramatic circumstances at the Hungaroring. Coming into the weekend, the Italian partnership held an eight-point advantage over the rival Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG team of Maro Engel and Luca Stolz. Variable weather conditions affected Saturday’s qualifying session and race, with Caldarelli and Mapelli enduring a difficult start to their weekend.
Race 1. The #563 qualified eighth on the grid for the opening race, while the #4 of Engel and Stolz sat alongside the polesitting Akka ASP Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril. Race 1 began behind the safety car as heavy rain made conditions too dangerous for the regular rolling start. Mirko Bortolotti was the best of the Lamborghini once the racing begun, settling his #63 Grasser Racing Team Huracán GT3 into second place behind Marciello after working his past the Stolz Mercedes at Turn 2 early on. Mapelli started the #563 and maintained position in the early laps before working his way past the Mercedes of Thomas Neubauer and the Aston Martin of Ricky Collard to sixth ahead of the mandatory driver-change pit-stops. Bortolotti hounded the leading Marciello but could not find a way past into the lead, instead opting to wait until the pit window to open to try and make ground. Mapelli was the first of the top ten to make his pit-stop and he swapped with Caldarelli. Christian Engelhart took over the commands of the #63 and kept Abril’s #88 Mercedes honest initially before slipping back into the clutches of the charging Engel as the race entered its closing stages. With Caldarelli only making one more position – at the expense of Hugo de Sadeleer’s R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage – Engel went on the attack of more points as Engelhart began to struggle with grip on a drying track. Engel eventually made several laps of pressure pay off by overtaking Engelhart around the outside of Turn 9 to grab second place on the final lap, reducing Caldarelli/Mapelli’s points lead to just two heading into the final race of the season. Race 2 While Engelhart and Bortolotti qualified a strong second on the grid behind the #88 Mercedes of Abril and Marciello, it was another difficult session for Caldarelli and Mapelli, who could only manage 13th. With the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes qualifying fourth, the #563 had it all to do come the race.
Contrary to Saturday, Race 2 was dry throughout, allowing Caldarelli to jump two positions off the rolling start. A puncture for the Audi R8 of Dries Vanthoor and an assertive move on the Mercedes of Nico Bastian meant that the #563 was finally in the points-paying positions in ninth. Keen to make use of clean air in front of them, both the #63 GRT and the #563 FFF Huracáns pitted as the window opened. Quick pit work from FFF gained the #563 a full 2.5s on the #63 and subsequently two further places – on the Audi R8 of Christopher Mies and the Porsche of Sven Muller. With Bortolotti maintained second ahead of the #4, Mapelli emerged from the pit-stop phases fourth behind Engel. Engel, desperate to pass Bortolotti to gain the two points which would take the title, piled on the pressure in the remaining laps. But Bortolotti was impressive in defence and proved fast enough in key sections of the circuit to keep the Mercedes at bay. While the #88 ran out triumphant for the second time in two days, Bortolotti’s second place and Mapelli’s fourth ensured Lamborghini secured a first Blancpain GT title on countback. Both the #563 and the #4 finished the season tied on points, but with two overall victories to one in favour of the #563, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli are provisionally crowned champions.
Pro-Am title also secured for FFF Racing. On top of the overall title, FFF Racing also celebrated victory in the Pro-Am category in the hands of Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Lamborghini Factory Driver Phil Keen. The pairing, driving the #519 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, missed out on class victory in the opening race, getting past by the Akka ASP Mercedes-AMG of Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla on the last lap, to win Race 2 and the championship.
Emil Frey Racing duo Altoè and Costa extend International GT Open points lead at Silverstone. Giacomo Altoè and Albert Costa moved back into the lead of the International GT Open championship after recording a double victory at Silverstone. Driving the #63 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, Altoè and Costa took pole position on Saturday morning from team-mates Norbert Siedler and Mikaël Grenier. The two crews were largely unchallenged throughout and cruised to a comfortable one-two finish, with a reduced gap to the third-placed Mercedes of Fabrizio Crestani and Miguel Ramos due to a late safety car intervention. Siedler and Grenier couldn’t quite match their Race 1 podium in Sunday’s second encounter and had to make do with fourth, as Altoèe and Costa profited from a one-second time penalty for the Teo Martin McLaren duo of Fran Rueda and András Saravia. Altoè and Costa now hold a nine-point lead in the championship ahead of the penultimate round of the year in Barcelona in two week’s time.