The third round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup took place last Saturday following the races in Monza and Silverstone. Emil Frey Jaguar Racing competed in the 1000-km-race at Paul Ricard (France) with two GT3 Jaguar after a successful test program. Both “cats” impressed with phenomenal performances, including the race lead and a promising chance for a podium result, before bad luck struck twice. Firstly, the #114 race car was facing a technical issue whilst the number #14 car suffered a setback with a tyre puncture.
Despite the disappointing end results with P34 and P39, the Jaguar crew showed a strong race in preparation for the 24-hours of Spa (End of July). In a competitive starting field with 58 GT3-cars, Albert Costa Balboa missed Pole Position by only 0.217 seconds and qualified the #14 GT3 Jaguar in fourth place – the best qualifying result for the specifically developed GT3 by Emil Frey Jaguar Racing. Christian Klien also had good lap times in the sister car and placed the #114 in P11.
In the opening phase of the race, there were two Full-Course-Yellow periods, which the Swiss team used strategically clever for the first pitstops. Stéphane Ortelli handed the #14 to Spaniard Costa Balboa, who started his charge through the field, overtaking a Ferrari and Mercedes to then continue to take the lead of the race. The sister car also benefited from the early pitstop and was soon running a second place. Both GT3 Jaguar were running in promising positions, however, with 2.5 hours to go until the chequered flag, a string of bad luck started.
But despite two tyre punctures for the #14 and technical issues for the #114, both GT3 Jaguar continued in the race and classified in the positions 34 and 39 despite a few laps behind.
“The tyre punctures were probably caused by another car driving into the back of us”, said Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Jaguar Racing. “Whilst we were running in second place with the #114 there was a sudden issue with the throttle response and the car even stopped shortly on track. Christian (Klien) was lucky to re-start and come to the garage, but we lost a lot of positions.
“At the following pitstop there was once again a technical issue with the electric and the engine could not re-start. After a quick repair work, we were able to continue in the race, but with 11 laps behind the leaders there was nothing to grab. It really is frustrating, because the team worked extremely well and the performance was very strong – we could have finished in Top-Positions with both cars.”
The next step in preparation for the 24-hour-race at Spa will be the test-day on 4th July 2017, before the highlight of the year takes place at the Belgium race track from 27thuntil 30th July 2017.
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #14
Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
“The start of the race was very intense and a couple of cars were faster than me, but I tried to follow them. We kept fourth position and were able to keep-up with the front runners. The temperatures dropped more than expected and that was also good for the general cooling of our car. I am very proud of the Emil Frey Jaguar Racing Team, because we now have the GT3 Jaguar exactly there, where we wanted it to be. Even if we did not have the luck on our side this time, the performance is there and I am positive for the 24-hour-race at Spa.”
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“I was very happy to qualify our GT3 Jaguar in fourth place, because it was not easy. I had lots of traffic on every fast lap. On the last attempt, everything worked well apart from one tiny mistake I made. Big thanks to the entire team, because the GT3 Jaguar was in great conditions and it is exciting to see how we have developed ourselves. I drove a good rhythm in my stint, the tyres quickly had the right temperatures and I could attack. We also took the lead for a short while, but unfortunately we were not able to have a good result in the end.”
Lorenz Frey (CH)
“The hot temperatures during free practice and qualifying where not easy on both men and machine and it was very challenging. I was pretty much in the middle and had some good battles in my first stint. We had the potential to drive in the Top-10 and point results could have been possible. We showed a very good performance as a team and we set the first milestone in qualifying. We had the right performance, but that´s racing, things like that can happen. Now we have to focus on Spa to have two perfect race cars and we will attack once again.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #114
Marco Seefried (GER)
“We managed to improve a few things on the car on Friday, but we had the advantage at the race, because the temperatures cooled down and we benefited from that. After the test we had in Portugal, we knew that our strength would be within the Long-runs and we proofed that in the race. I took to the start and we planned our pitstop very cleverly with the two Full-Course-Yellow periods. Unfortunately, we suffered a technical issue and we lost a lot of time to come back and really fight for good positions. It is very frustrating after such a great drive.”
Christian Klien (A)
“We had a strong qualifying as a team with P4 for the sister car and P11 for our GT3 Jaguar. We improved a few things since Friday and were able to attack. Despite losing some time on Friday in terms of Set-up changes, everything was spot-on for Saturday and we had a good starting position for the long race. The technical issue happened out of the blue. We had an extremely strong pace at Paul Ricard, we were setting some of the best lap times and without suffering any technical issues a podium would definitely have been possible. We did not have luck on our side this time.”
Jonathan Hirschi (CH)
“It was not easy to start the race with two Safety-Car or rather Full-Course-Yellow periods, but we had a good strategy and pitted early. Everything was going to plan until we had to face the problems. We suffered a lot of bad luck as a team. But we still remained in the race and used the laps as testing ground. I am still positive about the race at Spa, because the speed and the overall performance was there.”
Source. Emil Frey Racing