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Strong early run in IMSA 6 Hours of the Glen ends in retirement for Lamborghini SC63

24 June 2024

Caldarelli and Cairoli produce strongest qualifying performance so far for the #63

Lamborghini Iron Lynx was left to rue what could have been as a cooling system issue forced the #63 crew of Andrea Caldarelli and Matteo Cairoli to retire from the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Endurance Cup season at Watkins Glen.

Heavy rain showers dominated the majority of the race, with strong tyre strategy and solid race pace allowing the Lamborghini SC63 to run as high as third overall, ahead of more established GT Prototype (GTP) class rivals. Having impressed in qualifying, with a deficit to pole position of just seven-tenths of a second – the smallest margin to date for the SC63 – hopes were high for another top 10 finish in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

However, shortly after the halfway marker, the team identified an issue with the cooling of the #63, forcing Caldarelli to come into the pits. A subsequent trip behind the wall to the paddock unfortunately proved to be final and the car was officially retired.

There was disappointment also in the GT Daytona (GTD) category, as both the #83 Iron Dames crew of Rahel Frey, Sarah Bovy and Michelle Gatting and the #78 Forte Racing entry of Loris Spinelli, Misha Goikhberg and Devlin Defrancesco crashed out amid changeable weather conditions. The best finish among the quartet of Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2s was the #45 WTRAndretti combination of Graham Doyle, Kyle Marcelli and Danny Formal in 15th, while #19 Iron Lynx of Franck Perera and Jordan Pepper failed to see the end after a late issue in the pits.

Free Practice and Qualifying - GTP
The weekend’s action began with a pair of 90-minute free practice sessions during which the main programme for the #63 centred on getting more mileage in the car and bridging the performance deficit to the front of the field. Having not raced in the IMSA championship since the 12 Hours of Sebring back in March, this was also the first event with a new chassis and the car managed a total of 35 laps in the opening session, setting the ninth quickest time. In the second session, the #63 completed 36 laps and improved its margin to the fastest time, ending up just 0.762s off the ultimate pace with the seventh-fastest time. More importantly, both Caldarelli and Cairoli reported positive feelings with the car, which encountered no issues ahead of qualifying.

Proof of the improved performance of the SC63 over one lap came on Saturday afternoon as Caldarelli set a time of 1m32.923, which was just 0.714s off the pole position time of the #10 Acura and good enough for ninth on the grid for the 6 Hours.

Race - GTP
The race began under dry conditions with Caldarelli maintaining position at the wheel of the #63, despite the attention of the #5 Porsche in the early stages. Three full course yellows periods punctuated the first half of the race as did a short but heavy rain shower, all of which appeared to benefit the #63 at various points. Caldarelli swapped with Cairoli under full course yellow and emerged out of the pits in fourth place to bag two points in the Endurance Cup at the three-hour marker. The #63 was then up into the overall podium positions at the restart but its cause was dealt a blow as Caldarelli had to serve a drivethrough penalty for a yellow flag infringement. Unfortunately, events transpired against the #63; it lost a lap after switching back onto slicks a lap after its rivals before a cooling problem forced the #63 behind the wall and into retirement.

GTD and GTD Pro
Free Practice and Qualifying
A total of four Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2s were entered across the GTD Pro and GTD classes, with free practice providing a steady start to proceedings before qualifying. The #19 GTD Pro pairing of Perera and Pepper struggled for ultimate pace and ended up 10th out of 11 cars on the grid, just over a second off pole. In GTD, the #78 Forte Racing entry was the highest placed of the Lamborghinis in seventh, while the #45 WTRAndretti entry of Kyle Marcelli, Danny Formal and Graham Doyle languished in 18th place. The #83 Iron Dames Huracán had initially set the 10th quickest time, but an engine change meant they had to start the race from the back of the grid.

Race
At the start, the #78 remained the best placed Huracán, moving up to third place in GTD as the #19 settled into a solid sixth place in Pro. The stop-start nature of the multiple FCY periods meant that the #78 remained in podium contention and duly picked up three points in the Michelin Endurance Cup at the halfway stage, but its progress was hamstrung by a drivethrough penalty for being under the minimum pit-stop refuelling time. Shortly after serving the penalty, the rain arrived once more and, in the treacherous conditions, Spinelli was a passenger as he slid off track and heavily into the barrier. He was unhurt but the #78 was out of the race. Before the rain shower, the race for the #83 Iron Dames also ended early as Bovy lost control over the wet kerb at the penultimate corner, sending the magenta Huracán into the tyres and ripping a wheel off. The end result was particularly frustrating for the Dames who, with Frey at the wheel for the start, had made multiple positions in the opening stint. After a lengthy red flag for weather, fortunes turned bad for the #19 who failed to see the chequered flag after a late pit-stop ended their race prematurely. The #45 struggled throughout but did make the finish in 15th in GTD.

Quotes

Andrea Caldarelli: “It’s not ideal to retire from any race but I think we saw some positive moments during the weekend. Qualifying was obviously the main one as it was the closest that we have been to the pole, so I think the car felt pretty good in qualifying and to be fair, even the start of the race, I had good fun, gained some positions and it was quite enjoyable. We were there with the pack but unfortunately, we had to retire due to a failure, but we will analyse and return stronger; I cannot wait to get back into the car already.”

Matteo Cairoli: “I think that we showed quite good pace in the mixed conditions despite the fact that we are missing some performance versus our rivals. I was quite happy with my stints so I will go home with a lot of satisfaction from my side, this is perhaps the only positive of the race. Of course, it’s a pity that we cannot finish the race, because in these conditions, you always have a chance. We had a technical issue and basically no chance to continue. Thanks to the team because they are working day and night to make a fast car for us, but there is still a lot of work to be done for future races.”

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