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Nürburgring Endurance

FFF, Lamborghini Eyeing Future Nürburgring 24 Involvement

Lamborghini leaning towards a larger presence in N24 with FFF evaluating a 2021 program…

Photo: Jan Brucke/VLN

GT3 front-runner Orange 1 FFF Racing Team is evaluating an entry into the Nürburgring 24 next year while Lamborghini is keen to provide support for a potential project.

FFF has grown to become one of Lamborghini’s top outfits and has delivered GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS titles in Asia and Europe over the last two years.

The Italo-Chinese team, which is part-led by Lamborghini factory driver Andrea Caldarelli, focused solely on endurance racing for the 2020 season after balancing its efforts between sprint and long-distance series last year.

The team currently races in GTWC Europe Endurance Cup and is also signed up for Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli despite missing the next round at Indianapolis.

It now appears that FFF is looking to launch a campaign at the Nordschleife next year, having made its debut in the NLS last month with a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for works drivers Caldarelli, Giacomo Altoe and Nürburgring specialist Marco Mapelli.

While this was always intended as an exploratory venture with no intention of entering this year’s Nürburgring 24, Caldarelli told Sportscar365 that the team is leaning towards a greater involvement in the German endurance racing headliner next season.

“Thanks to our relationship with Lamborghini, it was not just a decision we made to go to the Nürburgring [for the NLS race],” he said.

“We were also a little bit the one that tried to spice things up and say that we’re missing the N24 trophy on our CVs, so we started to work on a first approach to see how things are going.

“In the next couple of months, we will make a decision for 2021, to see if it would be interesting for FFF and Lamborghini.”

Caldarelli described FFF’s debut NLS outing, which ended with a 17th place finish, as a “test weekend”.

The race gave the team the chance to work with Hankook tires, rather than the Pirelli rubber the team has become used to in its GT World Challenge and IGTC initiatives.

“We didn’t really go with the objective to win the race or be on the podium, but we wanted to explore the championship,” explained Caldarelli.

“The work that we started to do with Hankook was quite good, in terms of exploring the category and the ways you can go with the tires. It was a very good first approach.

“It’s a very different world compared to GTWC and IGTC. It’s open tires for everyone so that gets really interesting for the teams.

“It was to let the team not just focus on one championship with one tire, but for the engineers who like to experiment new things. You need to open their minds a little bit.”

Lamborghini appears happy to support a wider Nürburgring involvement for one of its leading teams, as indicated by the company’s head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna.

The Italian manufacturer already has a full-time NLS competitor in Konrad Motorsport but the addition of a second crew with recent title-winning experience could herald a greater push from the factory department to compete against the big German brands.

A non-German constructor has not won the Nürburgring 24 since a Zakspeed-run Chrysler Viper GTS-R triumphed 18 years ago.

“It’s something that we are evaluating together with the team,” Sanna told Sportscar365.

“Today it’s too early to talk about possible participation, but clearly if a team with factory drivers was here [in the NLS race] from the team’s side – because we have already participated in the Nürburgring 24 – we will see.

“For sure the Nürburgring 24 is a race that we look at with more interest compared with the past, simply because we did very well more or less everywhere, except on the Nordschleife.

“Squadra Corse is not so big as to do everything immediately. We are always step by step, and the Nürburgring 24 was not our priority [before]. After a triple win in Daytona we are looking for a new challenge.

“The Squadra Corse structure is growing and the teams are growing. The interest from the teams’ side and the sponsors is growing, and for this reason we are looking for a new challenge.

“As usual, if and when we decide to do something, we do it in a proper way. At the moment it’s something that we are evaluating, but we are confident to be in the race next year.”

It’s understood that FFF could also enter the NLS double-header season finale in November, depending on what its intentions are for the rest of the IGTC campaign.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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