Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli said their class victory in last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying race was “great preparation” for Lamborghini’s effort in the debuting GTD Pro class.
The two Lamborghini factory drivers steered the No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo to top honors to put the Miami-based team on pole for its first-ever IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.
“It was an important race for the team because it’s a brand-new team, it’s the first time they’re doing this race,” Bortolotti said.
“Getting through all of the procedures, getting through one pit stop during the race was really, really important and crucial for us. I think it’s great preparation for the 24.”
Bortolotti and Caldarelli will be joined by fellow works pilot Marco Mapelli and Silver-rated driver Rolf Ineichen for the manufacturer’s first full factory effort in the Rolex 24.
While having claimed three consecutive class victories in GTD, the Italian manufacturer has stepped up to IMSA’s new category featuring GT3 machinery with all-pro lineups and factory or works-supported efforts.
“I think it’s really important,” Bortolotti said of being in GTD Pro. “It’s great to be in the top class.
“Obviously we’ve seen what has changed from the past. We have a bigger GTD class now split into two, so it’s great to have the opportunity to be in the Pro class.
“A manufacturer like Lamborghini deserves to be in the top class of GTD.
“There has been a lot of effort going into this to make it happen. It’s great effort from them. I’m really grateful to be a part of it with my teammate and the team we’ve been building over the winter.
“It’s great to be here and really important for Lambo to be in this class.”
Caldarelli, who was part of Lamborghini’s most recent Rolex 24 class win with Paul Miller Racing in 2020, said the manufacturer still put a large effort into the race through its factory roster of drivers.
“GTD in the past… we saw very strong lineups in GTD anyway,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s not that because the category has a different name, it is much different.
“In the past you could mix driver categorizations and it was the concept of the category. But if you see the records of the last five years, there were still a lot of factory drivers in the cars anyway.
“It is very prestigious, the fact that it is GTD Pro, so you can be a full factory lineup.
“The approach to the race is going to be pretty similar to what it was before. It’s really down to the last five hours when you start to get into it. But it’s very cool to share the car with Marco, Mirko and Rolf for this race.”
With Lamborghini stalwarts Grasser Racing Team focusing exclusively on DTM this year and longtime IMSA partner team Paul Miller Racing switching to BMW, Lamborghini is placing its GTD Pro efforts with TR3, which campaigned Huracan GT3 Evos in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS last year .
While boasting factory support with engineers and several crew members from FFF Racing Team, Bortolotti believes they have a “solid base” to work from this weekend.
“I must say I’m really impressed with what we found because we didn’t have the opportunity to do any testing before that, we just came straight to Daytona,” he said.
“We obviously have a lot of support from the factory side; that’s clear. `
“But also the base from the team, I must say it’s really solid. I think we have a really good base.
“We’re looking forward to the future and I think as we’ve seen [in the qualifying race], it’s the result of the group because it’s not only one race. It’s about the prep throughout the week.
“We know we have a competitive package and a reliable car. The car was not built from last year.
“It’s the fourth season with the Evo and we started in 2015 with the Huracan so we have a lot of experience, we know what the car is capable of giving us.
“I think we have a strong package and a good base as a team.”
Caldarelli added: “I think the key point would be that this race is not about speed, but about understanding the regulations and strategy.
“It is key to see how you put together new people to run the race for the first time. I think that is going to be the main goal for us, instead of searching for performance.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report