Autobacs Super GT Series star Andrea Caldarelli is now a perfect two-for-two in the 2017 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, as he and Grasser Racing Team (GRT) Lamborghini co-drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart held on by just three-tenths of a second to win the 3 Hours of Silverstone Circuit in England this past Sunday.
It’s the #63 GRT Lamborghini Huracán GT3’s third straight win in the Blancpain GT Series overall, having also won the 3 Hours of Monza and the sprint race at Brands Hatch Circuit in England.
Caldarelli wasn’t the only Super GT star on the grid at Silverstone, as Katsumasa Chiyo was back in the #23 Motul Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3, and Nakajima Racing driver Bertrand Baguette made his first start in the #66 Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, in a field that also included series alumni such as Benoît Tréluyer, Lucas Ordoñez, and Oliver Jarvis.
In an eventful race that saw a number of penalties, a delayed start, a shocking crash for one of the Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3s – and even a driving cameo from Top Gear star Chris Harris, the race for the win came down to the last few laps and a few tenths of a second.
Caldarelli drove the second hour of the race in the #63 Lamborghini, chasing down the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Michael Meadows in the lead, while also having to fend off the #84 HTP Mercedes-AMG of Jimmy Eriksson behind him. Eventually, Caldarelli would move the bright green Lamborghini into the lead of the race.
In the final hour, it was Engelhart in the #63 Lamborghini now having to fend off the #84 Mercedes with reigning Blancpain GT Series champion Maximillian Buhk, and the #90 Mercedes of former European Formula 3 champion Raffaele Marciello. Despite incredible pressure from Buhk, his German compatriot Engelhart was unphased, and delivered the #63 GRT Lamborghini to its second win of the Endurance Cup, and the third straight win in all of the Blancpain GT Series.
The win moves Grasser Racing Team to the top of the Blancpain GT Series Teams’ Championship, and Bortolotti & Engelhart to the top of the Drivers’ Standings.
The #23 Motul Nissan GT-R of Chiyo, Ordoñez, and Alex Buncombe had the pace to score a top ten finish after starting well back in 22nd.
But the team was forced to serve a drive-through penalty when Chiyo, who drove the middle leg of the race in relief of former GT Academy champion Ordoñez, went 14 seconds over his maximum drive time.
Buncombe brought the #23 GT-R home in 16th place, on a day where they could have had more to show for their efforts.
Baguette, making his first Blancpain GT Series start of 2017 with co-drivers Giovanni Venturini and Marco Mapelli, drove to a productive 19th place.
The former Formula V8 3.5 and WEC LMP2 Drivers’ Champion had the car as high up as fourth place at the end of the first hour, after starting the race in 31st position.
Super GT alumni Oliver Jarvis was ninth in the #7 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 with Vincent Abril and Guy Smith. Former GT500 champion Tréluyer, along with co-drivers Stephane Richelmi and Nathanael Berthon, completed just 36 laps before retiring from the race.
Circuit Paul Ricard will be the next round of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup on June 24, the week after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.