Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti took a dominant pole-to-flag victory in Sunday’s three-hour Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup race at the Nürburgring.
The drivers of the No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo were untouchable in the fourth round of the Endurance Cup season as they delivered the Italian manufacturer’s first overall win since the 2019 finale at Barcelona.
Bortolotti maintained his lead through a pair of Full Course Yellow/safety car periods in the final one-hour stint to take the win by 1.228 seconds from Jules Gounon in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Gounon, Raffaele Marciello and Felipe Fraga ran second for the entire contest but were unable to overcome the leading Lamborghini despite the gap coming down at the end.
Luca Stolz, Maro Engel and Nico Bastian earned Haupt Racing Team’s first Endurance Cup overall podium of the year by finishing third in the No. 4 Mercedes-AMG.
Albert Costa, Giacomo Altoe and Norbert Siedler narrowly beat their teammates Arthur Rougier, Konsta Lappalainen and Luca Ghiotto in a duel between two Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis for fourth and fifth.
Sixth for the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo took a nibble out of the points lead held by TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa winners Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar who ended up seventh for Iron Lynx.
WRT drivers Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, who were joined by Robin Frijns this weekend due to Kelvin van der Linde’s DTM clash, wrapped up the GTWC Europe overall title combining their results from Endurance Cup and Sprint.
Mapelli led the opening stint from pole for FFF, with Marciello chasing in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes.
The Italian duo drew clear from the rest of the Pro field led by Earl Bamber’s GPX Porsche and Konsta Lappalainen driving the No. 114 Lamborghini.
Caldarelli emerged from the first set of driver change pit stops with a nine-second advantage over Fraga and went on to extend the gap during the middle hour.
An early stop from Haupt Racing Team helped to elevate the outfit’s pink No. 4 Mercedes-AMG from fifth to third, while GPX dropped one place behind the No. 114 Emil Frey car after a BMW unintentionally blocked its entry to the pit box.
Engel moved right onto the tail of Fraga in the second stint, while Caldarelli was almost 20 seconds clear when the second and final pit stops began.
A trouble-free service from FFF saw Bortolotti inherit Caldarelli’s significant buffer over Gounon in the AKKA-ASP, which had Bastian pursuing it in third.
The greatest threat to the No. 63 Lamborghini’s dominance occurred when a safety car bunched the field around 40 minutes from the end, after Boutsen Ginion’s BMW M6 GT3 stopped in a dangerous position at the chicane.
This reduced the lead gap to approximately three seconds, while Gounon also had Bastian for close company with Mathieu Jaminet of GPX, Emil Frey Racing’s Rougier and Dinamic Motorsport Porsche driver Klaus Bachler next in line.
Bortolotti successfully managed the restart, but the race would soon be back under safety car conditions due to separate incidents involving Pro cars in the top ten.
Antonio Fuoco’s Iron Lynx Ferrari, which had made an unscheduled mid-stint fuel stop from tenth, bounced off the inside curb at the right-hand part of the Schumacher S before hitting the left-side barriers.
Racing continued for a couple of minutes until Jaminet crashed at the same location when his Porsche went out into the marbles in a battle with the Emil Frey cars.
Both vehicles were forced to retire, while Porsche was left with nobody in the points after Dinamic’s Nürburgring-winning 911 from last year stopped with an issue.
At the front, Bortolotti managed to evade any unexpected drama and kept Gounon at a safe enough distance to take a comfortable win for the Orange 1 FFF squad.
The all-Italian crew has provisionally moved up to third in the Endurance Cup standings with one race remaining at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where FFF claimed its most recent win before Sunday.
Lamborghini Completes Three-Class Sweep
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos won all three classes in action at the Nürburgring as Emil Frey and FFF prevailed in Silver Cup and Pro-Am respectively.
The Silver Cup contest initially looked set to go the way of Grasser Racing Team, whose Lamborghini controlled the opening two stints from pole with Clemens Schmid and Kikko Galbiati behind the wheel.
It led until just after the first safety car in the final hour, when Emil Frey driver Ricardo Feller forged a way past Tim Zimmermann.
The Grasser machine then encountered suspension damage in a solo incident coming out of the chicane, which promoted Attempto Racing’s No. 99 Audi to second and Toksport WRT’s No. 7 Mercedes-AMG to the final spot on the podium.
Feller shared the win with fellow Swiss drivers Alex Fontana and Rolf Ineichen, as the No. 14 crew added to their season-opening victory at Monza in April.
Their car needed to recover from an early rotation for Ineichen, who was tapped into a spin by the Toksport AMG which incurred a 10-second stop/hold penalty.
In Pro-Am FFF drivers Phil Keen, Stefano Constantini and Hiroshi Hamaguchi claimed the win after field-bunching during the safety cars concocted late drama.
Hamaguchi charged from third to first shortly after a brief FCY period for debris in the middle hour, but the later interventions brought the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG onto Keen’s tail during the deciding stanza.
A forceful yet effective move from Fabian Schiller on Keen into the Turn 5 left-hander set RAM at the head of the class, only for the German driver to run wide in traffic at the Schumacher S a handful of minutes from the checkered flag.
Keen managed to drive past the RAM car on his way to taking the win, as Schiller ultimately slipped to third behind the Sky-Tempesta Ferrari which started on pole.
RESULTS: 3H Nürburgring (provisional)