Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli have become the first drivers to win all three major Blancpain GT Series championships in a single season by taking victory in Sunday’s chaotic season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Italian pair shared the No. 563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Albert Costa, who was drafted in as a late replacement for Dennis Lind.
They had already won the GT World Challenge Europe sprint championship, which was confirmed earlier on Sunday, and now add the Endurance Cup and overall Blancpain GT titles to their names.
They follow on from Laurens Vanthoor and Maxi Buhk in achieving all three championships but become the first drivers to do so in a single season.
Team owner/driver Caldarelli crossed the line 4.4 seconds clear of Jake Dennis’ R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 after late-race drama hit his title rivals Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman.
The Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 was running in second but Buurman had contact with Dries Vanthoor shortly after a restart on the penultimate lap, dropping both cars down the order.
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Vanthoor fell to 25th while Buurman could only recover to 14th, giving Caldarelli a larger margin as he nursed his FFF Lamborghini to the line.
Costa started the race second but a daring move off-track and close to the pit wall on the run down to the first corner allowed him to catapult pole-sitter Sven Mueller’s ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R for the lead.
He then stayed out front, followed by Engel and Mueller, until the stewards awarded him a penalty for the overtake and forced him to give up two positions.
Mapelli moved into second on the way out of the pits after the first round of stops, passing Romain Dumas, who had taken over Mueller’s Porsche. Twenty minutes later, Mapelli made his way past Stolz’s Black Falcon car at Turn 2 for the lead.
Mapelli and Caldarelli remained out front for the remainder of the race, with Buurman running closely behind in second until his last-minute contact dropped the Mercedes back.
Mueller, Dumas and Mathieu Jaminet saw their hopes for a strong result fade away when Dumas was given a drive-through penalty for exiting the pits in the slow lane at the time when Mapelli overtook him in the fast lane.
SMP Racing headed to Barcelona as Endurance Cup title favorite as Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin held a 22-point lead in the standings, but an early puncture and later a drive-through penalty for contact with Andy Soucek’s Bentley dropped the AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GT3 out of contention.
The race was filled with safety car periods, with six neutralizations amounting to almost half of the three-hour race.
The longest of these was called on the first lap and lasted for 45 minutes after Zaid Ashkanani’s Dinamic Motorsport Porsche was tapped into the barrier by Rinat Salikhov, and rolled onto its roof.
Other safety car incidents included a spin for Jean-Luc Beaubelique, a collision between a Garage 59 Aston Martin and WRT Audi, a spin for Remon Vos’ Ram Racing Mercedes and an off-track excursion late in the race for Phoenix Racing’s Audi.
AKKA ASP’s Felipe Fraga, Timur Boguslavskiy and Nico Bastian won in Silver Cup, Sainteloc Racing’s Pierre Yves Paque, Edouard Cauhaupe and Pierre Alexandre Jean won in Pro-Am and and Raton Racing by Target’s Christoph Lenz, Antonio Forne Tomas and Stefano Constantini took Am Cup honors.