Orange 1 FFF Racing Team picked up its first win in European GT3 competition on Saturday evening, with Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli winning the first Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe race at Misano.
Team owner/driver Caldarelli moved into second from third on the grid on the run down to Turn 1, passing R-Motorsport’s Ricky Collard, while he later went on to take the lead from Charles Weerts on the third lap.
Thereafter, the Italian pairing remained out front for the rest of the race, taking the Chinese-entered, Italian-based team’s first European race win.
The team has been by far the most consistently successful outfit in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe and Endurance Cup this year, with at least one of its three Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos finishing on the podium in all but one race so far.
Mapelli finished 0.806 seconds clear of reigning Blancpain GT champion Raffaele Marciello, who was unable to sufficiently close the gap in his AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3, while Maro Engel completed the podium in his Black Falcon Mercedes.
GT3 newcomer Weerts started from pole in the No. 2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT car but was passed by Caldarelli early on before he spun his Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo into the gravel, prematurely ending his and Dries Vanthoor’s race.
Marvin Kirchhoefer took the R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, started by Collard, home in fourth, ahead of Silver Cup winners Fabian Schiller and Timur Boguslavskiy in fifth.
Andrea Bertolini made his way past David Perel for the Pro-Am Cup victory after sharing the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 with Louis Machiels.
The Am Cup victory, meanwhile, went the way of Wolfgang Triller and Florian Scholze in their HB Racing Ferrari which remained out front for the full hour of racing.
The race was interrupted twice, both times starting with a Full Course Yellow and, as now commonplace in the Blancpain GT Series, turning into a safety car period to bunch up the field.
The first was called for nine minutes when Weerts spun off track, with the race going green just as the pit window opened, while the race was neutralized a second time just a few minutes after the pit stops ended.
This was to retrieve Markus Winkelhock’s Sainteloc Racing Audi which had spun into the gravel when its left-rear wheel came off.
His co-driver Steven Palette was caught up earlier in the race when another Sainteloc car, driven by Simon Gachet, tapped Grasser Racing Team’s Christian Engelhart into a spin.
Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti recovered to finish sixth while Gachet was handed a drive-through penalty although he retired after the contact.
Race 2 is scheduled for 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) on Sunday.
RESULTS: Race 1