Giorgio Sanna has described Lamborghini’s third consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona class victory as “legendary” after Paul Miller Racing led a historic 1-2 finish for the Italian manufacturer.
Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli claimed GT Daytona class honors in Sunday’s hard-fought IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, finishing ahead of the Grasser Racing Team-run Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
The two cars, in the hands of Lamborghini factory drivers and defending GT World Challenge Europe champions Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli, exchanged the class lead in the closing stages of the Florida endurance classic.
A strategic penultimate pit stop for the Mitchell Simmons-led Paul Miller crew put Caldarelli out front and en route to the team’s first Rolex 24 class win.
Sanna, the head of Lamborghini motorsport, told Sportscar365: “It’s significant because it’s an American team that has done a mega job and won a lot with us in the last few years.
“This was the last milestone that they were looking for. I’m very proud about that.”
Lamborghini has become the first GT manufacturer in the post-merger history to claim a ‘trifecta’ of wins in the Rolex 24.
The Austrian-run GRT squad picked up top class honors in 2018 and 2019.
“Thank you to all of our customer teams starting with Paul Miller Racing, but also Gottfried Grasser who did a mega job as usual,” Sanna said.
“He was a bit unlucky with a couple of cars, but a mega job by the car that was driven by [Marco] Mapelli in the last triple stint.
“We are so proud. So proud because it’s the third in a row.
“It’s a legendary win for us, for the entire company, and proud to have all these fantastic drivers driving for us and all the engineers with Squadra Corse and all the people in Bologna.
“It’s something unbelievable.”
Sanna said the manufacturer entered the weekend well-prepared, with a class-high five customer Huracan GT3 Evos all having shown encouraging pace, despite a pre-event Balance of Performance adjustment.
“Clearly we had prepared for the race in the best way possible but every 24-hour race is a sort of roulette,” he said.
“It’s like a poker game. You have to react, to be lucky at the right moment, but the preparation for the race is fundamental, especially for the 24 hours.
“The Huracan looks to be born to compete and be successful here in Daytona. North America is our first market, so I’m particularly proud to be here.”
Caldarelli Credited for Being “Backbone” of Paul Miller’s Charge
Sellers credited Caldarelli for having been such an “integral” part of the team’s program for the past four years, including its GTD championship in 2018, as well as helping deliver the class win on Sunday.
“He was the backbone of the program yesterday and today,” said Sellers.
“I think everybody put on a hell of a show. Each one of us had moments where I think we shined but today really rested on his shoulders and those final three hours.”
The Italian, who along with Sellers, Lewis and Snow, becomes a first-time Rolex 24 winner, said he felt this year’s edition was more like a sprint than an endurance race.
“The last three years, I think it was more like strategy,” Caldarelli said.
“But this one, with not so many yellows, you could see that it was a consistent push and the last three hours I was in the car.
“It was extremely tough, especially fighting with my teammate in Europe so it was a pretty strange feeling!
“To win a 24-hour race, it is a team effort and each one of us had a different approach to the race and that is what enabled us to deliver the win.”