➤ Orange1 FFF Racing took its first race win in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It was what the team needed for a slim chance to win the Cup, and with SMP Racing finishing outside the points, that’s exactly what they did. The other results this year that brought FFF the title were 2nd in Monza, 6th in Silverstone, 3rd in Paul Ricard and 8th in Spa. The #563 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 scored zero points at the 6- and 12-hour marks of the Spa 24 Hours and didn’t score any bonus points for pole position either.
➤ The full list of champions crowned in the overall Blancpain GT Series: Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli (drivers overall), Orange1 FFF Racing (teams overall), Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels (drivers Pro-Am Cup), AF Corse (teams Pro-Am Cup), Nico Bastian (drivers Silver Cup), AKKA ASP (teams Silver Cup). Blancpain GT Endurance Cup champions: Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli (drivers overall), Orange1 FFF Racing (teams overall), Salih Yoluç, Charlie Eastwood and Ahmad Al Harthy (drivers Pro-Am Cup), Oman Racing Team with TF Sport (teams Pro-Am Cup), Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga (drivers Silver Cup), AKKA ASP (teams Silver Cup), Leo Machitski and Adrian Amstutz (drivers Am Cup), Barwell Motorsport (teams Am Cup).
➤ Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli are the first drivers in the series to win the triple crown – Blancpain GT, Endurance Cup and World Challenge – in a single season. The Italians are also largely responsible for the team’s championships in Endurance Cup and the overall Blancpain GT Series. Caldarelli is now the most successful driver in Blancpain GT history with 4 titles. His previous title came in 2017 when he won the Endurance Cup with Grasser Racing.
➤ FFF Racing’s success this season wasn’t limited to the #563 Lamborghini, as the #519 car driven by Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi won Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe titles in the Pro-Am category for drivers and teams.
➤ Dennis Lind missed out on the Endurance Cup title as he had to pull out of the weekend at the last moment due to injury. His team owner and co-pilot Andrea Caldarelli did give praise to his should’ve-been co-champion: “We really need to share this championship with him,” Caldarelli said. “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.” Click HERE to read the full interview.
➤ It was Marco Mapelli’s overtake for the lead on Luca Stolz in the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 that eventually proved pivotal for FFF Racing in winning the championship. Not only did it put Black Falcon behind them in the overall Blancpain GT Series, it also ensured the Italian-Chinese team would snatch the Endurance Cup from SMP Racing who failed to score the few points necessary to defend its championship lead. “It was a nice move,” Mapelli described the overtake. “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.” Click HERE to read the full interview.
➤ #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 pilots Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels won the Blancpain GT Pro-Am Cup, despite endurance teammate Niek Hommerson getting stuck in the gravel after a start incident in the third corner. The Dutchman was eventually freed by the marshals and the Ferrari squad managed to finish 6th in class. This was just enough to stay ahead of Jim Pla in the championship, who finished 7th after a lacklustre race for the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3.
➤ For Andrea Bertolini, winning the Pro-Am Cup was his 9th championship victory of his career. The 45-year-old Italian, a winner of four outright FIA GT titles and one FIA GT1 World Championship title, amongst others, told GT REPORT he’ll go for title number ten and then call it quits on his racing career.
➤ TF Sport added Pro-Am Endurance Cup team and drivers honours to its already successful 2019 season in which the Tom Ferrier-led squad also took home the British GT championship. The Aston Martin team also competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Blancpain GT Endurance Pro-Am Cup champions Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluç alongside British GT champion Jonny Adam.
➤ One of FFF Racing’s strongest weapons at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was the Lamborghini’s restarts. Title challenger Yelmer Buurman described the Lambo’s restarts as ‘unbeatable’: “The Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini was so quick, it was ridiculous,” the Black Falcon driver said. “It was like they found an extra gear, it was bizarre. We didn’t stand a chance.” Click HERE to read the full interview.
➤ SMP Racing drivers Miguel Molina, Mikhail Aleshin and Davide Rigon went into the finale leading the Endurance Cup by a strong margin of 22 points to second place. Qualifying 13th set in motion a series of misfortunes that would see the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 get hit from behind at the start and suffer a puncture, and later on in the race tangle with the #108 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Andy Soucek resulting in a knockout drive-through penalty. The AF Corse-run team ended second in the Endurance Cup as it finished 13th.
➤ The fastest lap of the weekend was set by Raffaele Marciello in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Italian raced a 1:44.598 in the first qualifying session on Sunday morning.
➤ Ride along with #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 driver David Perel as he works his way to third place in the Silver Cup.
➤ Until its retirement on lap 15, the #25 Saintéloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Christopher Haase, Simon Gachet and Dorian Boccolacci was on its way to become the only car to complete every single lap this season. The counter got stuck at 707 laps when Simon Gachet parked the Audi with overheating problems. The #563 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and #4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 are the only ones to completed 776 laps, one shy of the maximum number of 777 laps completed on the lap lead.
➤ The Blancpain GT Series is over for 2019, but the Intercontinental GT Challenge is not, with many teams and drivers making the trip to South Africa at the end of November for the Kyalami 9 Hours. Last held in 2000, the race has been resurrected as part of SRO’s unofficial GT world championship and is expected to have at least 30 entries. Amongst the entrants are Black Falcon, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS Automotive Performance, KCMG, Frikadelli Racing, Rinaldi Racing, Audi Sport Team WRT, Audi Sport Team Land, Honda Team Motul, Walkenhorst Motorsport, BMW Team Schnitzer, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing, Dinamic Motorsport, GPX Racing, R-Motorsport, Bentley Team M-Sport, Garage 59, KUS Team 75 Bernhard and Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing.
➤ The field for the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge contains a large number of one-off entries including several all-South African crews, one of which is the #9 Team Perfect Circle Porsche 997 GT3R raced by Andre Bezuidenhout, Franco Scribante and Silvio Scribante. The previous-spec Porsche is named in honour of the 1969 Kyalami 9 Hours winning David Piper Auto Racing Porsche 917 with the blessing of David Piper himself.
➤ A number of changes were announced for the 2020 Blancpain GT Series. The World Challenge Europe weekend will from next year on have qualifying take place on the day of its respective races, replacing the current format of the grids for both races determined on Saturday morning.
➤ Watch the extended highlights of the season finale in Montmeló.
➤ Next year’s calendar for the GT World Challenge Europe – Blancpain remained unnamed in Stéphane Ratel’s presentation for the 2020 season – has been finalised. No major changes have been made, other than the Nürburgring getting back to its original endurance slot while Barcelona goes back to hosting a sprint round.
12-13 March: Paul Ricard pre-season test
19 April: Monza (Endurance)
3 May: Brands Hatch (Sprint)
10 May: Silverstone (Endurance)
30 May: Paul Ricard (Endurance)
16-17 June: Spa test days
27-28 June: Zandvoort (Sprint)
4-5 July: Misano (Sprint)
25-26 July: Spa 24 Hours (Endurance)
6 September: Nürburgring (Endurance)
26-27 September: Hungaroring (Sprint)
10-11 October: Barcelona (Sprint)