Patience Pays for Lamborghini in Rolex 24 GTD PRO Qualifying Race

IMSA Photo

IMSA Wire Service

It was only a 100-minute race, but Mirko Bortolotti remained patient in working his way toward the front in Sunday’s Rolex 24 Qualifying Race at Daytona International Speedway. Bortolotti then made the late, race-winning pass to capture GTD PRO class honors, the Motul Pole Award and the right to start up front in class at the 60th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan 29. 

Driving the No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 after taking over for co-driver Andrea Caldarelli, Bortolotti swept past Alessio Picariello’s No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3R in Turn 6 with just 14 minutes remaining and held on to win by just 0.475 seconds in a fierce tussle to the finish. 

The TR3 factory-backed team is loaded with veteran talent but is new to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Bortolotti and Caldarelli will team with fellow Lamborghini drivers Marco Mapelli and Rolf Ineichen in the fabled 24-hour race.

 Bortolotti said the team has a competitive and reliable package after doing “its work.” He stayed busy in the cockpit and kept the car out of harm’s way in traffic – no easy task with 60 cars racing on Sunday. 

“The traffic played a big (positive) role for us and sometimes that can be the other way around,” Bortolotti said. “You can get some benefit from traffic, and I think that’s what helped pull me up to the leaders. It’s nice to get a win here, but it doesn’t mean much for next weekend.” 

While the 100-minute race provided a small sample size compared to 24 hours, Caldarelli said it showed just how competitive and exciting that the Rolex 24 will be. 

“This race showed it’s going to be a very, very close Rolex 24,” Caldarelli said. “It’s going to be a tough race, really, anyone can win. This was a fun race for us and all the fans out there.” 

The No. 79 Porsche, which crossed the finish line second in class, was assessed a post-race time penalty equivalent to a drive-through for failing to adhere to minimum tire pressures as defined in a Michelin Technical Bulletin for the event. It moved the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr to second in the GTD PRO race.

A similar penalty was assessed to the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, which had finished fourth. That promoted the sister No. 15 Proton USA Mercedes driven by Dirk Mueller and Austin Cindric to third place in the final results.

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