Pole position, two race wins, twice fastest lap of the race and the Championship lead: Things could not have gone much better for the Austrian Grasser Racing Team at the second race of the 2017 Blancpain GT Sprint Series at Hatch. Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart in their Lamborghini Huracán number 63 dominated the whole weekend: An advantage of nearly 20 seconds to the second placed WRT Audi at the finish line gave a clear statement of superiority.
Already qualifying made it clear that Grasser Racing would be a very strong force at Brands Hatch. Bortolotti put his car on pole position with a gap of more than half a second, which in the normally very closely fought Blancpain GT Series is a different world. “Mirko was really flying”, teammate Engelhart was enthusiastic. In the qualifying race both had no big problems to score the first win of the day, leading from flag to flag, while Ezequiel Companc and Norbert Siedler in the second car number 19 improved from P4 on the grid to P3, also putting themselves in a very promising position for the main race that was about to start a few hours later.
There Christian Engelhart immediately took the lead and was able to widen the gap lap by lap, while behind him Companc in the second Grasser-Lamborghini managed to establish himself as runner-up. „It was a good thing for me and it helped me a bit to further extend my lead,” the German admitted. Until the pit stops he had achieved an advantage of about 25 seconds, “and after that we could just control the race until end.” Bad luck for car 19 during the pit stop prevented a possible one-two for the team: A broken drive-shaft meant that Norbert Siedler was not able to get back on track. Nevertheless the Austrian draw a positive conclusion: “After we were kicked out at Misano at Monza twice at the first lap, we immediately manage to reach the podium on our first trouble-free race in the morning. And on Sunday evening for sure it would have been P2 again for our Grasser-Lamborghini. Compliments also to Ezequiel, who in both races defended his position under great pressure without making any mistake. For him it was his first podium in Blancpain GT Series.”
Mirko Bortolotti had no difficulties bringing home victory for the number 63. Afterwards the Italian was ever so happy: “This was definitely the best weekend we have had since the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 project started. I’m obviously very happy with my lap in qualifying. A pole position with a new track record is always cool. Getting on winning both races and setting the fastest lap in both races is a definitely very special. The team did an outstanding job, which is the basis for everything.” Engelhart could not agree more: “We as a team delivered the perfect job. The unbelievably good set-up we found this weekend was the key to our success. It was pure joy to drive our Lamborghini at the limit. I am very fortunate that I can drive for thus team in these circumstances, with such a great co-driver as Mirko. Now we will move on to Silverstone in a very positive mood!”
Silverstone will see the second race if the Blancpain GT Endurance Series already the coming weekend. For Grasser racing the aim has to be to defend the Championship lead taken over at Brands Hatch. In the Drivers´ Championship Bortolotti and Engelhart are leading with five points ahead of the Mercedes drivers Franck Perera and Maxi Bukh, in the Team Championship GRT Grasser Racing is ahead eight points from HTP Motorsport (Mercedes). While still celebrating the great weekend at Brands Hatch, team principal Gottfried Grasser is also already looking forward to the coming challenges: “It is now very important for us to score good points again at Silverstone and to stay ahead in the Championship. But I still can´t really believe how fantastic the past weekend was for us. It nearly could not have gone any better, the tests last week fully paid off. Brands Hatch really seems to be a Lamborghini track. Here we also celebrated our first Sprint Series victory at all in 2014. I am only feeling sorry for the bad luck of the 19 crew, who had a good chance of finishing the main race in P2.” Grasser was adamant to express his very special thanks “to the great team that we have. After the accidents at Misano and Monza these are finally the results that this hard-working squad deserves so much!”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team/Photo. John Patterson