Italian manufacturer Lamborghini is preparing for the biggest programme in its sportscar racing history, having never previously fielded a prototype like the Ligier-chassised SC63 machine.
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But the project received a major setback just a few weeks into the start of testing, when Bortolotti crashed the car heavily at Paul Ricard, rendering heavy damage to the tub.
Lamborghini has since managed to put significant mileage on a new chassis, completing two full tests at Almeria and Jerez in Spain, and the car is now being shipped to the US for the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona next month.
Grosjean was one of the drivers who put the SC63 LMDh through its paces since testing resumed in Spain and was pleasantly surprised with how it ran without encountering any major technical issues – especially with the common electrical hybrid system.
The Frenchman told Autosport: “The testing went really, really well, it was very impressive with how smoothly it went.
“With the hybrid, being a year later [than the opposition] we haven’t had any issues – touch wood – and it’s been a good surprise, honestly, to all of us that we’ve been running so well with a new car. I hope the next tests go as well as the last one!
“We will take part in the group test on 6/7 December at Daytona with the other manufacturers so that should give us a good idea of where we are.”
Photo by: Lamborghini Squadra Corse
Romain Grosjean, Lamborghini Iron Lynx, Lamborghini SC63 LMDh
Like Alpine, Lamborghini is joining the LMDh ranks a year later than its rivals, having not signed off the programme until the summer of 2022.
The SC63 was officially revealed to the public in July this year, just a month before the car’s first full test at Paul Ricard.
Given the limited timeframe Lamborghini had to work around with, Bortolotti said he is impressed with the state of the programme and is keen to help develop the car further in the US ahead of its competition debut in Qatar next March.
“Everything is going according to plan,” the Italian told Autosport.
“European test sessions are complete and now we will move to America in the next weeks and we will continue the development, so I’m looking forward to an intense test phase in the next weeks till the end of the year to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I must say that I was impressed by the work we have done already. So early on in [testing] the car really proved to be reliable.
“Obviously it’s clear when you are in the development phase that not everything runs always smoothly, but I must say that we managed to cover a lot of mileage in Europe, which pleases me a lot and at the same time it gives us a chance to work and to learn the car, and develop it further.
“I must say [with] the current state I’m really happy with how things proceeded.”
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz
Mirko Bortolotti, SSR Performance
In its first year in prototype ranks, Lamborghini will field a single car each in the full WEC season and the endurance events in IMSA, barring the Daytona 24 Hours curtain-raiser in January.
A second example of the SC63 is expected to join the full-season WEC entry at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
Grosjean, who will join the WEC squad at Le Mans, and Bortolotti are among the four factory drivers signed up for the programme along with Daniil Kvyat and Andrea Caldarelli.
Current Porsche-contracted driver Matteo Cairoli is in prime position to join Lamborghini in IMSA, with Edoardo Mortara being considered for the last remaining seat in the marque’s six-strong LMDh roster.