Just in time for the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Silverstone, the British weather showed its nice side. In beaming sunshine, the two GT3 Jaguar by the Emil Frey Jaguar Racing team had two outstanding Top-12 results, scoring their very first point of the season with tenth place.
After Emil Frey Jaguar Racing could not bring home some points following some unlucky circumstances at the season-opener in Monza, all hopes laid upon the home race for the British car brand. Not least, since the Swiss team demonstrated a competitive performance last year and took their first-ever podium two years ago.
Whilst the #14 GT3 Jaguar shone with the third quickest time in the first Free Practice, the team had some issues with finding the right Set-up during the Pre-Qualifying. With changing track conditions during the all-decisive qualifying session on Sunday morning, the two blue racing cats qualified in P15 (GT3 Jaguar #114) and 16 (for the sister car #14) with only 0,030 seconds apart.
The Austrian Christian Klien started into the race driving the #114 and lost a few positions in the chaotic start seeing two formation laps, having to avoid crashing cars right in front of him. Despite some traffic, he was able to improve up the field and handed the car over to team-mate Marco Seefried (GER).
The sister car had a much better start into the race: The Monegasque Stéphane Ortelli had a great charge through the field and pitted from eighth place, with Lorenz Frey (CH) taking behind the wheel of the #14. Due to the Safety-Car period, Frey was not able to keep the tyre pressure of the GT3 Jaguar up and suffered some position losses.
In the second half of the race, Seefried had luck in the #114 twice when avoiding spinning cars in front of him. He showed a strong performance in his stint. Jonathan Hirschi (CH) was the final driver to attack from P16, following the last pitstop going into the remaining hour of the race.
Albert Costa Balboa was the last driver in line to drive the #14 and impressed with a great drive. First, he overtook two Lamborghini only to then pass the sister car in the team internal fight for positions. The Spaniard was going very strong in the last 20 minutes until the chequered-flag and took another car, this time the #88 Mercedes. Crossing the finishing line, he secured tenth place and taking the first point for the Emil Frey Jaguar Racing team this year. The Swiss Hirschi also had a great, final stint and rounded-up the good team result with a Top-12 finish.
“It was not an easy race for us but we made up for it at the end”, says Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Jaguar Racing. “We had quite the disadvantage with the long Safety-Car period, since we had to wait especially long for the pitstop for the second car and we lost quite a few positions because of that. But we made up for it again during the race and showed a really strong performance in both the GT3 Jaguar final race stints. We fought hard and our speed was very good. The team has worked very hard for this and we were competitive, which is positive for the races to come. Today, we were rewarded with P10 and the first point. Albert and Jonathan had a brilliant drive in their stints and we are really pleased about both Top-12 results.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #14
Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
“The GT3 Jaguar has really improved over the winter and we could once again, after Monza, fight with the big teams about positions. In my stint, I overtook both the Nissan and the Bentley, both cars that won races in the past. I was running in P8 when I stopped at the box. The team did a really good job today and I am really pleased that we have scored our first point.”
Lorenz Frey (CH)
“In the last qualifying session, we went out on slicks on a still damp track, but it was amazing to see the great handling of the GT3 Jaguar. We were able to push all the time and it felt really good. I could not deliver the performance I wanted since I had not been able to keep the right tyre pressure due to the Safety-Car phase. Towards the end of the race, both GT3 Jaguar showed once again their potential especially in long-runs. It is great, to have scored our first point of the season here at Jaguars Home.”
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“It was a really disappointing qualifying for me, to be honest. I caught traffic just when my tyres had the right pressure. This is racing of course, but when you have a car that is capable of qualifying in the Top-5, it is very frustrating. Luckily, I was able to show a great performance during the race. I had some good overtaking’s and the GT3 Jaguar seemed to go better the longer the race went on. I am very proud that we have scored our first point for the team and the entire crew.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #114
Christian Klien (A)
“Our qualifying position was good and the gap to the front was ok, I still think we could have qualified a bit further up towards the Top-10. After the issues, we had with finding the right Set-up on Saturday, we can be really happy. I was lucky to avoid the accident on the second lap, but some other cars passed me. After that, it was extremely difficult to make up positions. The performance of the GT3 Jaguar was right on the point today, but we simply started to far back and were caught in traffic.”
Marco Seefried (GER)
“In Qualifying, a ran wide coming out of Turn 8, because I did not expect the curb to still be wet. I lost a lot of time because of that and I think we could have gone faster. I fought really hard in my stint and it got very hot in the car. Jonathan had a very good race at the end and it is unfortunate that we only narrowly missed out on the points ranking.”
Jonathan Hirschi (CH)
“In the first qualifying we had a good pace with P5, which simply underlines the current performance of the GT3 Jaguar. We had a good strategy during the race and I was able to attack in my stint. Albert (Costa Balboa) was faster than me, so I let him pass. After a turbulent race, I am happy with 12th place, but it would have been nice, to also score some points.”
Source. Emil Frey Jaguar Racing/Photos. John Patterson