Marco Mapelli has been a longtime Orange1 FFF Racing driver, having been with the Italian-Chinese team since 2016 when it was still solely an Asian outfit. So, when the Andrea Caldarelli and Fu Songyang-led Lamborghini squad made the move to Europe, it was only natural for the works driver to join the team’s new adventure, which culminated in all three Blancpain GT Series’ championship titles.
“It’s a nice reward for all the people [in the team],” Marco Mapelli said after finishing the season at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with a race win and three championships under his belt. “I see the people around me smiling and crying; their joy is my joy. We work for this and we drive for this. I try to be as less selfish as possible, to be as much a team member as possible and to work for myself and for everybody. This is the prize for doing this all the time.”
It was Mapelli’s overtake on Black Falcon’s Luca Stolz for the lead of the race that laid the groundwork for FFF Racing’s championship sweep – a move that brought the team its first Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race win as well.
“He was fair,” the Italian described the overtake. “It was a nice move. I went on the outside, he didn’t push me or run wide. Obviously, he didn’t leave me the door open so I had to scratch a little bit, but it could be a move that you’d say ‘fuck, we lost the championship’ or is a move that we won the championship and we did.
“It’s not easy to get an opportunity. When there was the opportunity my brain thought ‘try it’ and I tried. I was brave, but I was also lucky to do it.”
Throughout the yellow flag-ridden race the #563 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 displayed a masterclass in restarts. The overtake for the lead came, unsurprisingly, at one of the many restarts.
Mapelli admits restarts were one of the focal points for the team this season.
“We worked a lot on this with our car. We’re missing a little bit of pace in qualifying since the beginning of the year, but we are not missing the race pace. Especially in the race start, we know that we can do a good job especially if we have clear air and this was the case which was good.”
Out the gate, FFF Racing made its Blancpain GT presence known by debuting in the series in rainy Monza with a second place finish. This first podium was only a taste of what was to come as the team continued to score in both the sprint and endurance races.
“I think all the first part of the season showed us that we had a car able to fight for the championship,” Mapelli continues. “We didn’t play well in Spa and were a bit unlucky and we lost a few points. We knew that we had a car that can win and when you feel that you have a car that can win, you have to go for it because not every year you have the opportunity, the Balance of Performance, or the conditions to fight for the championship and we made the maximum out of it.”
Winning the most competitive GT3 championship in the world alongside his Italian compatriots gives special meaning to the Seregnesi.
“Most of the people are Italian because we work together a lot with Lamborghini. This is why I’m very proud because I know how hard they try, how many pitstops the mechanics practice before the first race, how many times they finish late in the night and start early in the morning. 90 percent of the work is from them.”