Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s results so far in its debut Blancpain GT Series season have been better than expected, according to team owner and driver Andrea Caldarelli.
The Chinese-entered, Italian-based team debuted in European Blancpain GT competition this season after winning the Blancpain GT Series Asia title last year.
It heads to this weekend’s Paul Ricard 1000 km leading the Endurance Cup drivers’ and teams’ standings, and second to Black Falcon in the combined championship.
“I have to say, it’s a little bit above expectations but we know that we prepared the season very well during the winter,” Caldarelli told Sportscar365.
“The only thing that scared us mostly was the timing because we did everything in such a short time.
“Starting with the container coming back from Asia, our new workshop in Italy which is still not set up completely.
“We won in Asia last year and our target was we wanted to be competitive already from year one. We didn’t believe in just jumping into the championship and learn, take time.
“That’s not our style, that’s not the reason why this program started.
“Leading the championship is a little bit of a surprise because we know how high level our competitors are but I’m pretty confident of the potential of the team and our drivers as well.”
Pit Stop Error Denied Strong Result at Silverstone
FFF lost out on a possible 1-2 finish in the last round at Silverstone due to problems in the pit stops, which Caldarelli described as a “stupid mistake”.
It occurred during the second round of pit stops when two of its cars mistakenly pitted on the same lap.
Caldarelli’s own No. 563 car had earlier lost out during the first stop when a Full Course Yellow was called, dropping him from the lead to seventh.
“We were very unlucky because on my out lap, I was doing the second stint, we got the Full Course Yellow,” he explained. “We pitted from the lead and ended up in P7.
“We didn’t want to repeat the same mistake [in the second round of stops] and we were in the lead again, so we said let’s go maximum driving time.
“We tried to pit at the end and unfortunately, the communication between the two engineers was not great.
“No. 563 was on the maximum driving time so I had to pit, and the No. 519 was supposed to pit the lap after but for some reason, they did the same lap.
“There was not [enough] space, the fuel rigs were so close, and we lost a lot of time with both cars. That was a very simple, stupid mistake, honestly. All the team was very disappointed.”
On account of this mistake, Caldarelli says his target for Saturday’s six-hour race at Paul Ricard is to see “perfect” pit stops all around.
“I think it can be normal that this kind of thing happens,” he said. “It should not, and for me, one time is possible, but the important bit is not to repeat it.
“In Paul Ricard, we have five pit stops for each car and I want to see 15 pit stops perfect, that’s the target for the next race.”