Lamborghini celebrates third victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona with sensational one-two finish
Lamborghini kicked off its 2020 racing season by making yet more history at the traditional curtain raising 24 Hours of Daytona. Winning the GTD class with the #48 Paul Miller Racing partnership of Andrea Caldarelli, Corey Lewis, Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow, this is the third consecutive year Lamborghini has taken victory at Daytona.
The quartet in the #48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo kept their noses clean throughout the epic endurance race to finish 21.908 seconds ahead of another Lamborghini, the Magnus Racing by GRT’s Marco Mapelli, John Potter, Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally to secure an historic one-two.
Stefano Domenicali, CEO and Chairman of Automobili Lamborghini stated: “In 2019 we wrote an important page of motorsport history, winning a legendary race for the second time, fighting with the most prestigious car makers. This triumph in 2020 demonstrates how Lamborghini is always looking ahead and constantly working to always achieve higher and more important targets. My congratulations to both teams and all the drivers, they have done an amazing job”
Strategy played a key role in determining the outcome of the race, with the #88 Audi R8 providing a stern test in the closing hours of the classic enduro. But both the #48 and #44 held their nerves to lock out the top two positions. Second for the #44 was a remarkable turn in fortunes, after mechanical issues prevented the Magnus Racing team to set a time in Thursday’s qualifying, leaving them 17th and last on the grid for the race.
It was in stark contrast to the two-time defending champions Grasser; the #11 was the quickest of the five Huracáns with fifth on the grid in the hands of Steijn Schothorst, Richard Heistand and Factory Lamborghini drivers Franck Perera and Albert Costa. As the race got underway at 13:30 ET on Saturday however, the #11 dropped five places to 10th on the opening lap, while the #44 (with Pumpelly at the wheel) made a superb start to leap six spots to run just behind Schothorst.
Snow started the #48 and moved up one position to run seventh in the opening stint, as the field settled into a rhythm early on. Behind, Brandon Gdovic (#47 Precision Performance Motorsport) also made progress from his 11th place on the grid, moving up to ninth, while Christina Nielsen gained one place from her 14th place in the #19 GEAR Racing by GRT Huracán.
After a positive double stint inside the opening two hours of the race, Schothorst handed over the commands of the #11 to Perera, having run as high a second during the pit-stop sequence.
But Perera ran into trouble halfway into the fifth hour as the #11 suddenly slowed with a fuel problem. Unfortunately, it was not a quick fix and the Grasser car was effectively out of contention for the class win.
Not long after Perera ran into trouble, Eric Lux was collected on the Tri-Oval by the #23 Aston Martin of Alex Riberas. Both suffered damage to their cars, with the Aston Martin receiving a penalty as a result. Lux brought the #47 back to the pit-box, but the incident brought out the first Full Course Yellow of the race.
As night fell, the #44 and #48 found themselves in the class lead after the pole-sitting #9 Porsche lost time after the caution period. Caldarelli now at the wheel of the #48 began to close in on Pumpelly in the #44, putting the young American under pressure. The pair went side-by-side for the lead, with Caldarelli eventually coming out on top in that battle with just over 16 hours of the race remaining.
Christina Nielsen was forced to retire the #19 Huracán in the morning as mechanical issues caused the Dane to stop. This brought out the fifth FCY, while the #47 of Lux also ground to a halt with a problem inside the same hour.
Pit strategy dominated the final hours of the race, with the #88 Audi short-filling while the two Lamborghinis carried out a full refuel for the #44 and #48. Mapelli held the lead heading into the final two hours, but Caldarelli was the quicker of the two in second. The pair fought nose-to-tail in spectacular fashion, with the latter grabbing the lead before the final round of stops.
Once the last pit-stops had been completed, Caldarelli emerged with an extended lead over Mapelli (more than 20 seconds) which he maintained until the chequered flag.
Andrea Caldarelli (#48 Paul Miller Racing): “It was more like a sprint race than an endurance race. The last three years, I think it was more like strategy but this one, with not so many yellows, you could see that it was a consistent push and the last three hours I was in the car, it was extremely tough, especially fighting with my team-mate in Europe [Marco] so it was a pretty strange feeling! To win a 24 Hour race, it is a team effort and each one of us had a different approach to the race and that is what enabled us to deliver the win.”