Only victory at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya could bring Orange1 FFF Racing and Andrea Caldarelli the championship in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, while SMP Racing had to falter. With all that stacked up against the Italian-Chinese squad, plus the equally strong and eager title contender Black Falcon racing them for the win, the #563 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 team beat the odds to be crowned Blancpain GT champions of 2019.
QUALIFYING REPORT | PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK | RACE REPORT | RESULTS | NOTEBOOK | GALLERY | INTERVIEW MARCO MAPELLI | INTERVIEW YELMER BUURMAN
A grand total of seven titles were collected in the overall and Pro-Am classes of the Endurance Cup, World Challenge and overall Blancpain GT championship this year by the team built around owner and driver Andrea Caldarelli, who himself took the chequered flag at the Catalan race track.
“It is a really amazing feeling to win these three titles in one weekend,” Andrea Caldarelli said. “I have really nothing but thanks to all the team and everyone in Orange1, Lamborghini Squadra Corse, all the guys in the team, they honestly did an amazing job and they all deserve this.”
The day began with qualifying for the race where the championship leading #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 mustered only 13th place on the grid. This left the Russian-Italian team in danger of getting involved in first-lap shenanigans, which is exactly what happened as it suffered a puncture after getting tapped in the back. Regardless, the AF Corse-run Ferrari soldiered on only to be knocked out by a late-race penalty after a run-in with another car.
Despite the Ferrari’s lowly starting position, going into the race Caldarelli was only focused on taking the overall Blancpain GT Series championship where he and co-driver Marco Mapelli were going head-to-head with Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 drivers Maro Engel and Luca Stolz.
“Honestly we were not really thinking about the Endurance Cup. We knew that it was difficult; we were thinking mostly going in front of the Mercedes, but at the end we saw that we could win the race and that was honestly our target and then we were just waiting to see what the Ferrari was doing.
“The last 20 minutes were pretty intense inside the car, especially with the last safety car. But I enjoyed it, it was a lot of tension and a lot of pressure, but at the end it was a good relieve.”
Missing from the champions’ celebration, however, was Dennis Lind. Serving as the #563 Lambo’s endurance pilot alongside Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli, the Dane missed the final round due to injury. While Albert Costa was the perfect substitute for Lind, his team boss and co-driver recons Lind should’ve lifted the champions’ trophy together with them.
“We really need to share this championship with him. I’m very sorry that he was not here with us, but I’m sure that we all know, and he knows, that he deserves the same as us.”
FFF Racing relocated from Asia to Europe at the start of the year for its first and immediately successful foray into the Blancpain GT Series. With all top-level trophies swept up, the team is looking to expand its operations for 2020.
“To close the season with a race win and to win the championship is definitely a high. We didn’t know at the start of the season that we could do this, honestly, because it’s the first year for the team all together so it’s very difficult. Throughout the season we started to believe that we could do it.
“The future looks bright, I hope. We are deciding in the next few weeks, but Intercontinental GT Challenge is one of our priorities and we definitely stay in Europe with the SRO family.”
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