This season’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup produced one of the most dramatic conclusions in the championship’s nine-year history.
When the chequered flag flew for the final time the outcome of the overall drivers' title was decided by a single point, with newcomer Orange1 FFF Racing putting Lamborghini on top for the second time in three seasons. With the dust beginning to settle, it's time to crunch the numbers on what was a thoroughly unpredictable campaign.
We saw 76 cars compete in the Endurance Cup this term. 42 of those entered each round of the championship, while 72 were on the grid at the Total 24 Hours of Spa to establish a new record for the race's GT era. There were 11 different brands on show in 2019, with Lamborghini proving the best-represented across the full campaign. This, among other factors, made 2019 a very good year for the Italian marque.
The season saw a grand total of 777 racing laps spread across five Endurance Cup races. That adds up to a distance of 4848.34km – about the equivalent of driving from London to Moscow and back again! And while no crew was able to complete the full distance, a few came very close.
At the top of the table we find two of this season's standout squads: the #563 FFF Lamborghini that captured the overall Endurance Cup title, and the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes Mercedes-AMG, which ultimately finished third in the standings and bagged a podium finish at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Both of these cars managed 776 laps in total, missing out on the full set by just one. The Lamborghini went a lap down at Spa, while the Mercedes-AMG machine did the same at Circuit Paul Ricard. Otherwise, they ran the full distance – a hugely impressive achievement for both crews.
Third on the chart is the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, which completed 775 laps and was the best Silver Cup car. Next up was another Silver crew, the #6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG, which ran 772 laps. The star of the Pro-Am field was the #97 Oman Racing by TF Sport Aston Martin, which completed 767 laps to rank sixth overall, while among the Am Cup runners the #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini led the way on 762 (seventh overall).
The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a pattern here: in each case, the car that completed most laps in its class ended the year as champion. The only real outlier was the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari, which finished 17th on the laps completed chart but second in the Endurance Cup championship. Generally speaking, however, posting the most laps was directly linked to a successful campaign.
The full-season car that completed the fewest laps was the #59 Garage 59 Aston Martin, which ran only 226 of the possible 777. It suffered four DNFs from five races, including early exits at Silverstone (0 laps) and the Total 24 Hours of Spa (10 laps). There was better news on the other side of the garage as the sister #188 car, which ran in the Am Cup, completed 747 laps. That was 10th best overall and second in its class, which led to a runner-up finish in the Am standings.
Statistics of Success
In terms of podium finishes, Lamborghini was the most successful brand in 2019 with four appearances on the rostrum. Porsche posted three – including a one-two finish at the Total 24 Hours of Spa – while Bentley, Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG each captured two each. Aston Martin and Audi secured one apiece, ensuring that all seven top-tier brands registered podium finishes this season.
Three different brands took overall wins in 2019: Porsche triumphed twice, while Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini all recorded one each. If we combine the results from each class, Lamborghini emerges on top: the Italian brand took a total of six victories this season, ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG with four apiece.
The best overall finish for a Silver Cup car this term came in the opening race at Monza, where the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG finished fourth. This matched the best from 2018, when the #54 Emil Frey Jaguar took the same result at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
It is worth highlighting AKKA ASP, because in terms of class dominance the #90 Mercedes-AMG crew of Nico Bastian, Felipe Fraga and Timur Boguslavskiy was unmatched this term. They took three wins, a second and a third over the course of the season to clinch the Silver title by 55 points, the biggest winning margin of 2019 by some distance. This was achieved despite the class growing significantly in terms of numbers and competition this year. When your worst result of the season is a third-place finish, you know things have gone well!
The best overall result for a Pro-Am car in 2019 came at the season finale, with the #26 Sainteloc Audi finishing a very impressive 11th at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This not only bettered last year's high of 15th, but represented the best Pro-Am finish since the opening round of 2017, when the #97 Aston Martin was a lofty seventh overall.
There was a notable performance in the Am Cup, too. The #77 Barwell Lamborghini took 16th overall at Monza, securing the best Am finish since the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa. Given the ever-increasing standard of competition in the series, this is a significant achievement and helped to ensure a second successive class title for the #77 duo of Leo Machitski and Adrian Amstutz. The latter will step down from the Barwell programme next term, but Machitski is set to return and bid to become the first driver in any class to claim three successive Endurance Cup titles. Given the squad's recent form, this is a very realistic goal for the Russian.
The 2019 Endurance Cup season saw nine different nations represented on the top step of the overall podium. Three of them were there for the first time. At the Monza opener, Zaid Ashkanani (#54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche) became the first race-winner from Kuwait; at the following round, Mikhail Aleshin took Russia's maiden outright win; finally, at Circuit Paul Ricard, Jordan Pepper became the first South African to stand atop of the overall podium.
The 2019 season saw another very notable first as Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli swept the Endurance Cup, Blancpain GT Series and Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe titles. Not only is this a unique achievement, but Caldarelli is the first driver to win the overall Endurance crown twice, having previously done so in 2017.
This was also a year in which two brands ended long winless streaks. Porsche's triumph at Monza concluded a wait of more than six years for an overall Endurance Cup victory, while the Stuttgart marque's success at the Total 24 Hours of Spa ended a nine-year spell away from the top step in the Ardennes.
Ferrari also broke a six-year run without victory by triumphing at Silverstone. Bentley's win at Circuit Paul Ricard came almost exactly two years after its previous success at the same venue, while at the Barcelona finale Lamborghini got its first win for two and a half years. If we follow this pattern, the brands next set for victory would be Audi and then Aston Martin.
With the 2019 campaign complete, the countdown has already begun for what promises to be a momentous 2020. Not only will next term represent the 10th season for the Endurance Cup, but its 50th race will take place at the perfect location: the Total 24 Hours of Spa.