Lamborghini Squadra Corse kicks off its 2022 racing season in earnest with five Huracán GT3 EVOs entered for the 24 Hours of Daytona, round one of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
The iconic endurance race has a special place in the heart of Squadra Corse: the Sant’Agata Bolognese firm secured its first GT3 victory on US soil back in 2018 courtesy of Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Rik Breukers and Franck Perera.
Lamborghini then went on to take victory in 2019 and 2020, becoming the first brand to claim three successive wins.
For the 60th edition of the Daytona 24 Hours, Lamborghini will field five cars, across four teams. It will step up to GT’s top division, GTD Pro with the #63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO, while the other four will contest GTD.
Leading the way for Lamborghini in 2022 in GTD Pro will be Factory Drivers Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli.
For two-time winner Bortolotti, the prospect of returning to the World Center of Motorsport fills him with optimism and anticipation.
“It’s always cool to get a call up for the 24 Hours of Daytona,” said Bortolotti. “A race that will always have a special taste for me, having won it in 2018 and 2019 and finishing on the podium in 2020. [I] can’t wait to get down to business with TR3 Racing.”
Although relatively new to the Lamborghini fold, TR3 will have a degree of familiarity among the driver line-up, as Caldarelli and Mapelli continue the partnership first established in the title-winning GT World Challenge Europe campaign in 2019.
“I am really excited to drive again in the 24 Hours of Daytona, my sixth year in a row for Lamborghini Squadra Corse,” said Caldarelli, who took victory in the 24 Hours as part of the Paul Miller Racing set-up in 2020. “It is [our] first time with TR3, [but] I am really confident that we can achieve a good result at the end.”
As for Mapelli, who finished a close second in 2020, the allure of Daytona is ample motivation to go in search of victory this time around.
“I’m really happy to join TR3 Racing, especially with Mirko and Andrea to push forward,” he said. “The team is growing quickly and working hard to show up properly in this new venture. Daytona it’s such a special and complex race but, doing it with these people and the full support from Lamborghini Squadra Corse, makes me feel positive and I’m really looking for to it”.
The trio will be joined by the experienced Swiss driver Ineichen, himself a double winner in 2018 and 2019 alongside Bortolotti.
TR3 Racing will field a second Huracán GT3 EVO for the big race, with the #19 machine reserved for another Factory Driver, Giacomo Altoè, who partners Americans John Megrue, Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal.
“I’m stoked to be back racing at the Rolex 24 Hour of Daytona for my 2nd time, after my debut in 2019,” Altoè says. “It’s one of the most iconic races in the world and it will be for sure one of my highlights of the season. Lamborghini has always been really strong here so I’m very much looking forward to start working with all the TR3 family and get our job done!”
Making its debut in the Daytona 24 Hours is German team T3 Motorsport, which will run Factory Driver Franck Perera alongside impressive Lamborghini GT3 Junior Mateo Llarena, Misha Goikhberg and Maximilian Paul.
Perera, who was part of the Grasser Racing Team which won the 24 Hours in 2018, is keen to make another trip into Victory Lane this year.
“First of all, I'm happy and glad to be part of this event, it's always pleasure to start the season with this amazing big event,” Perera explained.
“It's my 4th time so it's special for me to come back, having won on my first appearance with Lamborghini in 2018. The level is the highest in GTD but I'm sure we have chance to fight for the win.”
The fifth Lamborghini Factory Driver taking part is one who is making his debut in the Daytona 24 Hours, Sandy Mitchell. He will join long-time Lamborghini stalwart Corey Lewis, Jeff Westphal and the up-and-coming Robert Megennis in the #39 Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
Mitchell, the youngest British GT champion in 2020 and a two-time class winner at the
Spa 24 Hours, is looking forward to returning to America, where he was a race winner in the one-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series in 2019.
“It’s always a great feeling going into a 24-Hour race, and with our line-up we head to the start line prepared to win,” says Mitchell. “We have two very good Silver drivers in Corey and Robert plus the Gold experience of Jeff. The average pace, performance and experience of the four drivers, in my opinion, and in one of the fastest cars in the class, is a huge positive.”
The final Lamborghini entry for the 24 Hours is the #42 NTE Sport Huracán, which will run Chilean driver Benja Hites, America’s Don Yount and Finland’s Markus Palttala. All three will be partnered by Jaden Conwright, the first winner of IMSA’s Diversity Development Scholarship which aims to create more opportunities for drivers from all backgrounds.
Action has already begun with the traditional “Roar before the 24” qualification race setting the grid for the main event. Bortolotti and Caldarelli took the #63 TR3 Racing Huracán to pole position after a terrific drive in the 90-minute encounter, with Bortolotti snatching the lead with 15 minutes of the race remaining.
Mitchell and Megennis claimed ninth place in the GTD class, while the #19 Huracán will start 13th.
The 24 Hours of Daytona begins on Saturday 29th January at 19:40 CET and can be viewed on the official IMSA website.