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Lamborghini records historic first FIA LMGT3 WEC podium in bittersweet 6 Hours of Spa

12 мая 2024

Pole for #85 Iron Dames and third place for #60 Iron Lynx in heavily disrupted, red-flagged race

Lamborghini recorded an historic maiden podium finish in the FIA World Endurance Championship as the #60 crew of Franck Perera, Claudio Schiavoni and Matteo Cressoni completed a heroic drive from 18th on the grid to finish third at the end of the 6 Hours of Spa.

Close behind the Iron Lynx trio was the all-female Iron Dames combination of Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting who, after clinching the first-ever pole position for Lamborghini in FIA WEC on Friday, came home inside the top five at the finish, having led large parts of the race in the #85 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2.

Meanwhile, Lamborghini Iron Lynx endured a character-building third round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship, as the #63 partnership of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Daniil Kvyat failed to finish a race for the first time in the short history of the Lamborghini SC63.

Having run cleanly at the start, the team discovered a suspension issue on the #63 car approaching the halfway stage, which forced the car into the garage. Unfortunately, a fix was not possible, and the car was retired.

FIA Hypercar
Free Practice and Qualifying
A pair of 90-minute free practice sessions kicked off the weekend’s action on Thursday, with the #63 completing a total of 70 laps and enjoying solid reliability throughout the opening day. Qualifying simulation was the main objective at the start of FP1, with Kvyat’s best effort of 2m06.998 good enough to place the SC63 third quickest, 1.308s off the ultimate pace but only a tenth of a second behind the second-placed #51 Ferrari. The team then focused on its afternoon programme in the second session, which took place on a marginally warmer track than in the morning. Kvyat completed a low-fuel, new tyre run at the start before switching over to Bortolotti and Caldarelli, who both conducted longer higher-fuel stints.

After the final practice session on Friday morning, where the #63 ended up 14th quickest, attention then turned to qualifying in the afternoon. Like at Imola, Kvyat was at the wheel during the 12-minute session and set a best time of 2m04.246, which put the #63 car 17th on the grid for the race, which became 16th after the overall pole-sitter was penalised.

Race
Under blue skies and warm ambient temperatures, Kvyat took the start in the #63 and kept out of trouble on the opening lap to settle into 17th position. Two full course yellows and a lengthy virtual safety car intervention punctuated proceedings during the opening three hours. Despite these interruptions, both Kvyat and Caldarelli were able to move up the order and briefly fought for position with the BMW and Peugeot in the top 15.

Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the #63, which began to slow with Caldarelli at the wheel; a suspension issue afflicted the SC63 at the very start of the lap, with Caldarelli suspecting a puncture. The car made it back to the pits, where it was subsequently wheeled back into the garage as the team attempted – in vain – to conduct repairs.

Attention now shifts to the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which marks another historic first for the Lamborghini SC63, as it embarks on its maiden official top-flight appearance in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The week-long jewel-in-the-crown event will kick off with the official Test Day between 8-9 June with the race taking place over the weekend of 15-16 June.

The #63 machine will return to its pre-Spa driver line-up of Bortolotti, Kvyat and Edoardo Mortara and will be joined at Le Mans by the sister #19 car – which regularly competes in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup championship – of Caldarelli, Romain Grosjean and Matteo Cairoli.

LMGT3
Free Practice and Qualifying
Keen to bounce back from a disappointing race at Imola at fortnight ago, the Iron Dames crew of Bovy, Gatting and Frey – the latter replacing Doriane Pin in the #85 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 – entered the third round of the year with added motivation. One-lap pace was strong across all three practice sessions, setting the second-fastest time in both FP2 and FP3. An electrical issue in FP2 meant that the team was unable to run a representative race simulation and were consigned to the garage for almost half an hour. The problem was rectified, with the raw speed in the car setting the Dames up nicely for qualifying on Friday. Bronze-rated Bovy, competing on home soil, topped the timesheets in the first 12-minute qualifying session and was the driver to beat in the top 10 Hyperpole shootout, taking a commanding pole position. Bovy’s time of 2m20.755 – Lamborghini’s first in the FIA World Endurance Championship – was over three-tenths of a second quicker than the next best car.

Meanwhile, the #60 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 shared by Cressoni, Perera and Schiavoni began the weekend in positive fashion, placing seventh in the opening session and ninth in FP2. The final session produced further improvements, ending up sixth fastest, just seven-tenths off the quickest time.

Race
From pole, Bovy got a good jump and maintained her lead into La Source, delivering a stunning opening stint to build a commanding 33-second advantage over the chasing McLaren, by the time she made her first pit-stop. The #85 remained in front until Bovy handed over to Frey at half-distance, when it lost ground and dropped to second place. The Swiss driver fought back brilliantly to reclaim the lead after slipstreaming ahead of the McLaren down the Kemmel Straight. The race was then red flagged following a big crash between the Cadillac Hypercar and the LMGT3 BMW, forcing a stoppage of nearly two hours. The organisers decided to restart the race following barrier repairs with the time lost restored. The #85 retained its lead but a problem in the final pit-stop with Gatting at the wheel meant it agonisingly fell off the podium to fifth.

Schiavoni started the #60 and stayed out of trouble to complete his minimum drive time and staying on the lead lap either side of the full course yellow and safety car periods. He handed over to Cressoni who continued to bring the car up the order and onto the cusp of the top 10 positions. Strategy played a crucial role in the fortunes of the #60 as Perera had started his stint one lap before the red flag. Upon the restart, the Lamborghini Factory Driver emerged in third place entering the closing stages before overtaking both the Porsche and McLaren in front to take the lead. The team then faced a nervous wait in the dying minutes, but Perera was forced to make a final-lap splash for fuel, but the #60 were rewarded with a well-deserved podium finish in third.

Quotes
Franck Perera, Lamborghini Factory Driver: “First of all, I am really happy to take our first podium in the World Endurance Championship and I have to say a big thanks to Lamborghini Squadra Corse and my team-mates, they did a great job, and it is really great what we are achieving. We are improving step-by-step since the start of the season, but I feel really sorry for the Iron Dames who I believe should have been on the podium with us. I didn’t even realise I was leading the race but it’s a really positive step for us, building momentum ahead of Le Mans.”

Rouven Mohr, Chief Technical Officer: “For the LMGT3, we are super happy as the car was very competitive and we were leading the race with the Iron Dames and also with the #60, which was competitive in the last part of the race. We were satisfied with the performance of both cars; therefore, it was a successful weekend for us.”
“For sure the result of the SC63 was not what we had wished for at all, but this weekend was always going to be a challenge for us due to the characteristics of the track which were quite specific, and we didn’t have the opportunity to test here during the development phase of the SC63. Nevertheless, we can say that is definitely a good experience for us as we have learned a lot about the car and based on these lessons, we will improve the car for the next races. I feel sort for the entire team because they put in a lot of effort, so this is not what we wanted to achieve, but we will take the lessons going forward.”

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