Andrea Caldarelli admits it was strange to go head-to-head with his European teammate, Marco Mapelli, in an intense final stint to secure GTD victory at the Rolex 24.
The pair won the overall drivers’ championship in last year’s Blancpain GT World Challenge as teammates for Orange1 FFF Racing, but at Daytona were on separate teams. In a straight fight during the final few hours of the race, Caldarelli came out on top to win the GTD class for the No. 48 Paul Miller Motorsports entry, and says it was an odd but stressful situation.
“It was very (high) pressure,” Caldarelli said. “I think it was more like a sprint race than an endurance race. The last three years was really more won on strategy. But this one you could see, with not so many yellow flags, it was like a consistent push. And the last three hours that I was in the car were extremely tough — especially fighting with my teammate in Europe.
“It was a pretty strange feeling.
“But to win a 24 hour race, it’s a team effort. Each one of us has a different approach to the race, and that’s why I think today was able to deliver a win: We are all different, but we really work well together. That’s the key point to win such an important race.”
While full of praise for Paul Miller Motorsports teammates Corey Lewis, Bryan Sellars and Madison Snow, Caldarelli also says this year’s race was so tight that time saved in the pits also played a crucial role in the win.
“It was very tight. Usually I race with Marco in the same car, so we never really fight each other one on one. But I know him; it was a very fair fight. We both represent Lamborghini as well, so we didn’t do any stupid things. But I think from outside it was very fun to watch. And also from inside the cockpit…
“It was really a sprint race, (lapping) at a solid pace in order to win a position maybe in the pit stop. The team did a great call on, I think, my third stop. That’s where we passed them, and that was actually a very good move from the garage.”