After what has seemed an eternity, the GT World Challenge Europe finally begins this weekend at Imola for the first Endurance Cup race of the 2020 season. Following a sensational 2019 season in the championship, the goal for Lamborghini this year is simple, to do exactly the same again…and more.
FFF Racing made its long-awaited entry into GT World Challenge Europe last season and came away with not just one, or two, or even three, but four titles in the Pro category. Led by team co-founder Andrea Caldarelli alongside Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind, the trio claimed the Endurance Cup at the final race of the season at Barcelona (albeit with 2020 Factory Driver Albert Costa deputising for an unwell Lind).
This combined with the Sprint Cup – and therefore the Overall – title for Caldarelli and Mapelli as well as the Teams’ crown, was a remarkable achievement for the team. And if that wasn’t enough, Phil Keen and Hiroshi Yamaguchi clinched the Pro-Am Sprint Cup title for the team as well.
For 2020, FFF will focus their attentions on just the Endurance Cup title assault, leaving another team firmly on the rise to take up the mantle of Sprint and Overall ambitions.
That team is Swiss outfit Emil Frey Racing, who swept to the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in International GT Open with Giacomo Altoè and Albert Costa.
Both remain at the team for Emil Frey’s return to GT World Challenge for the first time since 2017, driving the #163 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
Named Lamborghini Factory Drivers during the off-season, Altoè – the youngest Pro champion of Super Trofeo Europe and of the World Finals in 2018 – and former single seater racer Costa formed a potent line-up for the season, and they will be joined for the Endurance races by rapid Swiss driver Riccardo Feller.
Their team-mates will be the same pairing who pushed them to the GT Open title last year, 2017 Super Trofeo champion Mikaël Grenier is partnered by Norbert Siedler in the #14 Huracán, with another Factory Driver Franck Perera joining for the Endurance element.
Just as competitive as the Pro category are the Pro-Am and Silver classes of GT World Challenge Europe, and Lamborghini’s supported teams will field a mix of existing and new drivers for the 2020 season.
Leading the way in the Endurance Cup is undoubtedly UK based team Barwell Motorsport, who will run on car in Pro-Am for Sandy Mitchell, Leo Machitski and Rob Collard, with Rob’s son Ricky joining for the 24 Hours of Spa after his R-Motorsport Aston Martin was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the championship.
Mitchell, who plied his trade in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America championship with Wyane Taylor Racing last year, will also compete in a full season of British GT alongside Collard (who has made the switch from the British Touring Car Championship this year).
Barwell’s Silver line-up will feature 2019 Super Trofeo World Finals winner Frederik Schandorff and former Aston Martin Factory Driver Alex MacDowell who makes the shift over to Lamborghini power for this season. The pair will be joined by Finn Patrick Kujala, who was a late replacement for Jordan Witt.
FFF Racing has also placed great emphasis on the Pro-Am and Silver entries, with the title winning duo of Keen and Hamaguchi retained for the coming season. Imperiale Racing is also a late entry for Imola, with Italian GT regulars Kikko Galbiati, Giovanni Venturini and Vito Postiglione forming the line-up for the weekend.
In the Silver class, Frenchman Florian Latorre will be partnered by Belgian Baptiste Moulin in the #555 Huracán, both coming from Porsches. Up-and-coming British driver Taylor Proto will continue his journey with Lamborghini in GT3 for the second successive season, taking the third place in the line-up.
2020 GT World Challenge Europe Calendar
|Round 1||Endurance||Imola||25-26th July|
|Round 2||Sprint||Misano||8-9th August|
|Round 3||Endurance||Nürburgring||5-6th September|
|Round 4||Sprint||Magny-Cours||12-13th September|
|Round 5||Sprint||Zandvoort||26-27th September|
|Round 6||Sprint||Barcelona||10-11th October|
|Round 7||Endurance||Spa 24 Hours||24-25th October|
|Round 8||Endurance||Paul Ricard||14-15th November|