It’s still a year-and-a-half before the Lamborghini LMDh prototype enters competition in the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona, but Lamborghini Squadra Corse has already announced the first two drivers for the program targeting the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Factory Drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti, both currently involved in GT competition with Lamborghini, have been confirmed for the new project. They will serve not only as racing drivers but also as test drivers, contributing to the development of the prototype.
The two 32-year-old Italian drivers starred in the qualifying race for the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona, winning for TR3 racing to take the GTD PRO pole for the 24 Hour.
Although the car, with Marco Mapelli and Rolf Ineichen also in the lineup, didn’t finish the 24, Bortolotti, Caldarelli and Mapelli bounced back to finish second in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the last time TR3 has entered this season.
Bortolotti is a two-time Rolex 24 GTD winner with Grasser Racing Team, and Caldarelli was part of Paul Miller Racing’s Rolex 24 Hour GTD win in 2020.
“We are especially proud to announce Mirko and Andrea as the first drivers for the LMDh program,” said Giorgio Sanna, Lamborghini’s Head of Motorsport. “Both have contributed substantially to achieving historic results for Lamborghini in GT racing and their addition to the LMDh project also rewards their continued commitment to the Squadra Corse family.
“I’m sure that their talent and experience will be an added asset to our competitiveness in the premier endurance class.”
Caldarelli, the defending champion and currently leading the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Pro championship for K-PAX Racing, was recruited by Lamborghini as an official driver in 2017, contributing to winning the Blancpain GT Series title with teammates Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart in the Grasser Racing Team Huracán GT3.
In 2019, he won the GT World Challenge Europe “triple crown” at the wheel of the Huracán GT3 EVO of the Orange 1 FFF Racing team (where he is also team principal) paired with Mapelli.
“I’m really proud. I want to represent the manufacturer that actually was my dream when I was a child,” noted Caldarelli. “Lamborghini has been always part of Italian kids’ hearts since they are young. When you’re a kid, you dream to drive a Lamborghini. So that’s definitely a good opportunity.
“The day that I actually decided to join Lamborghini while I was racing in Japan, one of my targets for my career was racing in Le Mans and to do endurance racing. And Lamborghini, at that time, had already a project to do that.
“That was my main motivation. And even though I had to wait a long time, I really enjoy to work with every single guy at Squadra Corse. And I’m really happy that they, let’s say, stick from what we had agreed at the beginning.”
After winning the Italian Formula 3 Championship and the FIA Formula 2 title, Bortolotti had his first wins with Lamborghini in Italian GT in 2014, and the year after had a number of podium finishes in the Blancpain GT Series and a win at the ADAC GT Masters with the newly launched Huracán GT3.
At the end of the season, he was confirmed as an official driver and in the following years won the Blancpain GT Series championship (2017), 24 Hours of Daytona (2018 and 2019), and the 12 Hours of Sebring (2019) in the GTD class at the wheel of the GRT Grasser Racing Team Huracán cars.
Bortolotti is racing in the DTM championship with Grasser, and leads the standings at the halfway stage of the 2022 season.
“I’m delighted to continue my journey with Lamborghini, and to start an exciting new chapter in LMDh” commented Bortolotti. “I’m grateful to Lamborghini Squadra Corse for all the efforts put in place to make it happen and for the unconditional trust they have put in me since 2014.
“It is a huge honor and responsibility to represent the brand at the highest stage of endurance racing and to compete for overall victories in the main endurance classics.”
Lamborghini will be joining Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche in building LMDh cars, which will make up the bulk of the GTP class in the WeatherTech Championship and will also be eligible for the Hypercar class in WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans that already includes Toyota, Alpine and Glickenhaus, and soon Lamborghini’s cross-Modena-rival Ferrari.
The other LMDh manufacturers will begin racing in 2023, and Acura, Cadillac and Porsche have already been testing. Lamborghini, with another year, doesn’t have a timeline yet for the development of its LMDh car.
“The guys in the office, the workshop, they’re working really hard,” explained Caldarelli. “We all know how these things are and racing is definitely not a slow business, so we all know that earlier is better to go on track. But in the next few weeks or next couple of months, we’re going to be involved in some important things for the for the project.
“We all know that we have to start to compete at the beginning of 2024, so there is not so much time.”