Lamborghini have announced that Marco Mapelli, Christian Engelhart and Andrea Calderelli will join their current factory drivers, Mirko Bortolotti and Giovanni Venturini.
The almost all-Italian lineup will compete in various unconfirmed series around the globe. Giorgio Sanna, head of Lamborghini motorsport, made the following statement:
“We’re glad to welcome to our team two new renowned drivers, like Christian and Andrea, who obtained excellent results racing with our customer teams behind the wheel of the Huracán GT3 in 2016. Talking about Marco Mapelli, his recent record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife with the new Huracán Performante consolidates his great reputation both as a test and racing driver. We have high expectations of them, as well as of Mirko and Giovanni, who have been part of the family since the creation of Lamborghini Squadra Corse.
Mirko Bortolotti is the lead factory driver. the 27 year old from Trento in Northern Italy has been with the manufacturer since 2015, and is contracted until 2019. He has gained the reputation of being ‘Mr Lamborghini’ in recent years, and has produced some impressive drives for the Marque. He is a qualifying specialist, and has been impressive during races as well. Significant drives include leading for the first 2 hours at Paul Ricard in 2015 in the Blancpain Endurance series, putting the car on pole at the Nurburgring in the same year and series, and a stunning drive at 2016’s year’s Nurburgring endurance round in which he charged up from 6th to 1st in 15 minutes and proceeded to storm to victory alongside new factory driver Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen. He is not at Paul Ricard for this weeks Blanpain GT test though, so this could suggest he will be racing elsewhere, although this would be an unlikely surprise.
Giovanni Venturini hasn’t established himself quite in the same way as Bortolotti, but is very impressive nonetheless. The 25 year old from Vincenza raced in almost every possible form of single seaters before becoming a Lamborghini driver in 2015 alongside Bortolotti. He is particularly good at the middle stint, almost always taking it during his Blancpain GT outings in 2015.
Christian Engelhart is the only non-Italian driver in the lineup, although no-one would blame you if you confused his hometown, Ingolstadt, for an Italian city. He is a qualified engineer, but isn’t a bad racing driver either. The 30 year old is a Porsche Supercup race winner, and late last year he had a very successful debut for Lamborghini, holding off Laurens Vanthoor and taking the aformentioned victory at the Nurburgring.
Andrea Calderelli, 27, somehow becomes a Lamborghini and a Toyota Factory driver simultaneously. He already participates in Super GT’s GT500 class in a Lexus, and has had immense success, finishing second in 2014 and 2016. He is confirmed for another season with Lexus this year, and expect Super GT to be his priority. However he should be able take part in the Blancpain GT series Endurance Cup without any clashes. He is a fiery, rapid driver though so even if his running for Lamborghini is limited expect it to be spectacular!
Last but certainly not least is the even more fiery Marco Mapelli. The 29 year old from Lecco set the lap record for the Nordschleife in a road car recently, and has a vast amount of testing experience. However more recently he has tried to establish himself in the GT world, driving for Konrad motorsport on multiple occasions in the past 6 months.
This is undoubtedly a very classy lineup. 4 of the 5 drivers are classified as gold, with the exception of Bortolotti who is rated Platinum, and all of them have had lots of seat time in the Huracan GT3, so expect the entire quintet to be quick out of the blocks. After WRT announced an underwhelming set of Audi factory pilots (for Audi’s standards, it must be stressed) Lamborghini could become the VW group’s strongest Marque in the GT3 ranks.
Picture courtesy of GTspirit