Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli, teammates in the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán, have won the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Drivers Standings after Marco Mapelli brought the #563 car home in fourth place, one place behind championship contender Luca Stolz in the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shared with Maro Engel.
With both crews finishing on 92.5 points, the #563 duo won the championship on the tie-break of having taken two victories to the #4 BLACK FALCON crew’s one.
The overall winner of the final round of the series was the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes driven by Vincent Abril and, taking the chequered flag, Raffaele Marciello who crossed the line 16.754 seconds ahead of Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini. Completing the overall podium positions was the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes. .
Victory in the Silver Cup class went to the #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes driven by Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga with the sister #89 Mercedes coming home in second, piloted by Thomas Neubauer and Nico Bastian. The #89 crew has won the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Silver Cup Drivers Standings.
Class honours in the Pro-Am Cup standings went to the #Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini driven by Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi, the win meaning that Keen and Hamaguchi have won the Pro-Am class drivers standings, a double drivers standings victory for the team.
Vincent Abril in the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 led the field away from the grid with the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes, driven for the opening stint by Maro Engel, in fourth and the championship leading #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Andrea Caldarelli down in thirteenth.
As the lights went green, Christian Engelhart in the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini went for the lead but Abril held on and settled down to lead the field over the opening laps.
There was early drama when David Perel in the #333 Pro-Am Cup Ferrari F488 GT3 went off after an incident involving the #11 Phoenix acing Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Frederic Vervisch and Marvin Kirchhöfer in the #76 R-Motorsport Aston martin Vantage AMR GT3. The Safety car was called and the race was neutralised for over six minutes.
At the restart, Abril in the #88 Mercedes held on to the lead with Christian Engelhart in the #63 Lamborghini in second and Maro Engel in the #4 Mercedes in third. Andrea Caldarelli in the #563 Lamborghini was eleventh with the #87 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes a little under a second ahead.
Dries Vanthoor sustained damage to the right rear corner of the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at Turns Three and Four and returned to the garage, rejoining the field in twenty-third position.
After eight laps, Vincent Abril held a 2.771 second advantage over second-placed Christian Engelhart with Maro Engel sitting in a comfortable third place, a little under half a second behind the #63 Lamborghini.
After twenty minutes of racing, Caldarelli had moved the #563 Lamborghini into ninth position and was now less than a second behind Nico Bastian in the #89 Silver Cup AKKA ASP Team Mercedes, the Italian Team Principal passing the #89 Audi at the start of the thirteenth lap with a slight contact as the two cars exited Turn One.
Christian Engelhart in the #63 Lamborghini was the first of the front runners to stop when the driver change window opened, quickly followed by Andrea Caldarelli in the #563 Lamborghini, to hand over to teammate Marco Mapelli.
A quick pit stop by the Orange 1 FFF Racing Team gave the #563 crew a two-second advantage over the #63 Lamborghini, now driven by Mirko Bortolotti but, crucially, was also two seconds quicker than the stop for the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes, Maro Engel having stayed out until the race had reached the 30-minute mark.
After the driver changes had cycled through, the overall lead was held by the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes, now driven by Raffaele Marciello with the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini in second, Mirko Bortolotti at the wheel. Crucially for the championship, the #4 Mercedes, now driven by Luca Stolz, was in third and Marco Mapelli in the #563 Lamborghini in fourth. If the race was to finish in that order, Luca Stolz was painfully aware that the #563 crew would win the drivers title on the tie-break.
The German driver was putting pressure on Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 Lamborghini and, with less than 20 minutes, was .85 of a second behind, it now becoming critical for Stolz to find a way past Bortolotti if the #4 Mercedes was to win the title.
As the race entered its final quarter, Raffaele Marciello in the #88 Mercedes held a comfortable margin over the second-placed #63 Lamborghini and Luca Stolz had made up some ground to sit less than half a second behind Mirko Bortolotti. Marco Mapelli, meanwhile, had also reduced the gap to Stolz and was now 1.133 seconds behind.
After 27 laps, Stolz was urgently looking for a way past Bortolotti and Mapelli was also gaining ground, forcing the driver of the #4 Mercedes to keep an eye on his mirrors. With five minutes remaining, Mapelli was starting to look for a way past the #4 Mercedes.
The order remained unchanged for the final laps and Caldarelli and Mapelli won the Drivers Title on the slimmest of margins.
“It has been the longest thirty minutes ever!” said Andrea Caldarelli as his teammate pulled into the pit lane. “It was very difficult, starting in P13. All (through) my stint I was trying to push everyone and all I could do. This win goes to the guys. They have been amazing all year. It’s all for them.
“I still cannot believe, thinking about how we started the season – three cars with so many people. It was really tough at the beginning but they worked so hard and I really think they all deserve this.”
Overall winners Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril were delighted at their double victory at the Hungaroring.
“Two poles, two wins and a mega car!” said Vincent Abril. “Really I can’t thank the team enough. We had a difficult start to the year but that’s when you recognise the effort that we put in. We kept going and I’m very happy.”
The championship outcome is, however, provisional and dependent on the results of an appeal relating to an incident at Zandvoort so there could still be further surprises in store.