After recently experiencing an impressive record of continuous successes, the GRT Grasser Racing Team had to put up with a backslash during the weekend of the 6 hours of Paul Ricard, the sixth race of the Blancpain-GT-Series 2017. Whether it was all about the high temperatures, reaching still over 31 degrees Celsius at the start of the race at 6 pm, or just bad luck: The team struggled with smaller and some larger issues over the whole weekend – as by the way did most of the Lamborghini cars at Paul Ricard – and had to finally had to leave the south of France without having scored any points.
So understandably team principal Gottfried Grasser was rather disappointed: “We are leaving Paul Ricard really unhappy! It was for sure not the weekend we expected.” After having qualified in P20, car number 63 with Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli seemed to be on a good way up the field during the first two hours: “They had a really good race and could have finished in the Top10”, Grasser was adamant. “Unfortunately a Stewards´ decision gave us a one minute Stop and Go penalty, which we were sure was absolutely not deserved!” Mirko Bortolotti could not understand either why his team mate Engelhart was blamed for a collision with the WRT Audi driven by Vanthoor: “It was a very weird decision and it dropped us back to P39 after two hours. I really fought back hard during my night double stint but it wasn’t enough to get in the points – the best we could do was to get back to P13. We try again next time!”
The number 19 car was hit by technical problems already in Qualifying: “In Q3 my engine turned off in every fast lap in the last sector and I had to use the main switch to restart it”, Austrian Norberd Siedler explained. “Raffaele’s lap from Q2 was enough for P49 at least, but of course it´s not easy to start from so far behind.” Nevertheless the car seemed to make good progress during the first hour of the race, having already gained more than ten positions with Ezequiel Perez Companc behind the wheel. “But unfortunately the problem from qualifying came back in the race. Ezequiel entered the pits and the team tried to find a solution”, Siedler recalls. Which it actually did in the end as Gottfried Grasser confirmed: “The electrical problems finally got solved towards the end of race! The 19 could then do at least a trouble free good stint!” But it was too late for still entering the final result, as the number of laps done was not enough to be classified.
Grasser thinks the team had also been slightly disadvantaged at Paul Ricard for another reason: “We really hope for a fairer BoP in the future. Never ever in the whole Lamborghini history our car has been so heavy. The only positive thing after this weekend is that after our main competitors from Mercedes hitting trouble as well we are still leading the Championship, both teams and drivers, even if it is now only with a very small gap! Now heads up and looking forward to Spa – the 24 Hours are coming!”
But before this highlight of the season will take place at the last weekend of July, the GRT Grasser Racing Team will face another challenge already next weekend: With Roberto Pampanini, Christoph Lenz and Milos Pavlovic the team will take part in the A6-AM category at the 12 hours of Imola, a race of the Creventic 24 Hours Endurance Series.
Source. GRT Grasser – Wolfgang Koepp Speedy