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Caldarelli, Mapelli And Costa Win Incident-Packed Final Round In Barcelona. (29.09.19)

FFF Racing Secure Clean Sweep Of Overall Titles.

Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Albert Costa, teammates in the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 won the final round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series at Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona. The #563 Lamborghini finished 4.438 seconds ahead of the #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 driven by Alex Lynn, Marvin Kirchhöfer and, taking the chequered flag, Jake Dennis.

The overall podium positions were completed by the #107 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 piloted by Jordan Pepper, Steven Kane and Jules Gounon.

Victory for the #563 Lamborghini meant that Orange 1 FFF Racing has won the overall drivers championship, the GT World Challenge Europe and the Endurance Cup championships, both at team and driver level, an unprecedented result for a team new to the Blancpain GT Series in 2019.

Photo: Blancpain GT Series

Victory in the Silver Cup category went to the championship-winning #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes piloted by Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga. The #6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes finished second in the Silver Cup class.

The Pro-Am category was won by the #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Pierre Yves Pâque, Jean Pierre Alexandre and Edouard Cauhaupe. The #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin finished second in class.

Class honours in Am Cup class went to the #29 Raton Racing by Target Lamborghini driven by Stefano Costantini, Antonio Forne Tomas and Christophe Lenz.

Rowe Racing’s Sven Müller, in the #98 ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, led the field from pole position at the start but Albert Costa in the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 took the lead at Turn One.

Lengthy Safety Car After Porsche Incident.

The safety car was required within the first two minutes after a huge incident involving the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche driven by Zaid Ashkanani. The #54 Porsche finished on its roof after contact with the barrier at Turn Nine, the driver exited the car thankfully unhurt. The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Rinat Salikhov was served with a stop-go penalty for causing the incident.

The #72 SMP Racing Ferrari driven by Mikhail Aleshin and the #555 Orange 1 FFF Racing team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 piloted by Andrea Amici both pitted during the Safety Car period. Contact between the two cars had resulted in a puncture for the #72 Ferrari.

As the safety car circulated, there was drama for the leading #563 Lamborghini after it was ordered to giveback two places to the #98 Porsche following an investigation into the start. The stewards judged that Costa had dropped all four wheels off the racing service.

Just as racing was due to resume, the #25 Sainteloc racing Audi R8 LMS with Simon Gachet behind the wheel, stopped on the circuit. The Race Director was forced to keep the Safety Car out on track to allow for the recovery of the stricken vehicle.

Green flag racing resumed with two hours 12 minutes remaining, Maro Engel leading the field in the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes. As the first hour of the race was completed Engel led Müller by over 1.5 seconds with Albert Costa three car-lengths back in third.

FFF Racing Gain Advantage At Driver Change.

The three leading cars entered the pit lane together with the #563 Lamborghini, now driven by Marco Mapelli, exiting ahead of the #98 Porsche with Romain Dumas at the wheel. A full course yellow was required with one hour 45 minutes remaining after Mauro Ricci spun and beached the #87 AKKA Mercedes.

At the restart Marco Mapelli found a way past Luca Stolz to take the lead in the opening sequence of corners.

Mapelli handed over to Andrea Caldarelli and, as the race entered the final 30 minutes, the Italian driver in the #563 Lamborghini held a lead of just under three seconds from Yelmer Buurman in the #4 Mercedes. Michael Meadows in the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA Asp Mercedes was third, 1.7 seconds behind.

Dries Vanthoor in the #3 WRT Audi passed Michael Meadows for third with 20 minutes remaining. Contact with the left rear corner of the #88 Mercedes left Meadows with a puncture that ultimately led to the #88 spinning off. The contact was to be investigated later.

Frantic Final ten Minutes.

With ten minutes remaining, a further Full Course Yellow was required. At the restart, Buurman closed to half a second behind Caldarelli with a scramble for third place being fought between Jake Dennis in the #76 Aston Martin, Jules Gounon in the #107 Bentley and Giacomo Altoe in the #519 Lamborghini.

Dries Vanthoor in the #2 Audi attempted to pass Yelmer Buurman but the maneuver resulted in both cars leaving the circuit, handing second place to Jake Dennis and almost certain victory for Andrea Caldarelli.

At the chequered flag, Caldarelli held on to take the win by 4.438 seconds from Jake Dennis with Jules Gounon in the #107 Bentley taking the final podium position.

Andrea Caldarelli was overwhelmed to have secured a clean sweep of titles in only the first year of Blancpain GT Series competition for the team.

“It would take a very long sentence to sum up the emotions of everything we have achieved this season. It is quite unreal. Thinking back to 12 months ago, we had none of the 48 people who currently work for us now. It’s a big achievement and I am extremely proud of all of them. We are here, celebrating three championships, and all of this goes down to the fantastic job that we did during the winter.

“These titles are really difficult to win, not just on-track but also away from the track. I would also like to thank Dennis Lind, who was not with us in Barcelona but, together with us, had a fantastic season. Thanks also to Albert Costa, who came in for us at the last minute. I am very excited to share all of this with our team members.”

Given the number of incidents that occurred in the closing stages, all results are provisional.