It was a green light for Friday’s practice and the GRT Grasser Racing team proved that they would be one of the team’s to beat, after last year’s dominant victory from the pairing of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart in the #63 Lamborghini. In Free Practice 1 the team continued to dominate and finished the session in P1 with car #19. The next Free Practice started later on with the team remaining very positive. Again an impressive performance saw car #82 claim P4 at the end of Free Practice 2.
It was after Free Practice and before Qualifying that unfortunately the team suffered a change of BoP and this added an extra 20kg. It was always going to be difficult to challenge, but the team gave everything – perfect race strategy and great pit-stops, but because of the BoP configuration it was not possible to offer any more performance.
GRT Grasser Racing team drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart of the #63 started Race 1 from the back of the grid in last position. After 30 minutes of fierce racing, the German showed a strong performance – putting the Lamborghini #63 in P12. He handed over the car to Bortolotti who completed the top ten by the end of Race 1. There was improved performance in Race 2 with Mirko and Christian starting the second race in P4, and at the end of 39 laps could only manage a 5th place finish after an intense fight with the Mercedes #88.
It was a different story for Ezequiel Perez Companc and Andrea Caldarelli in the #19, who crossed the finish line in P12 in Race 1, just in front of the sister car #82 driven by Loris Hezemans and Franck Perera.
An unfortunate start to Race 2 meant that the #19 car suffered disappointment and didn’t finish due to the crash at the beginning of the race. In the sister car, Perera showed a strong performance and took the chequered flag for the #82 car in P7 at the end of Race 2, earning the team’s 3 needed points.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #63 (Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart)
Race 1: 10th (1:25.507) – 40 laps
Race 2: 5th (1:25.623) – 39 laps
Mirko Bortolotti: “We have got everything out of the car in Qualifying with a 4th place in Quali 2 and that’s definitely the highlight of the weekend. We did our best and scored points in both races. To get more performance out of the car wasn’t possible for us this time.”
Christian Engelhart: “We scored the points for the team and this is important. We do not give up on our goal of winning the Championship so we will push hard to be competitive in the next race at Silverstone.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #82 (Loris Hezemans, Franck Perera)
Race 1: 13rd (1:25.638) – 40 laps
Race 2: 7th (1:25.774) – 39 laps
Franck Perera: “Today we finished P13 in Race 1 and P7 in Race 2 and scoring a valuable 3 points for the team. First of all, what is good is that we finally finished a race for the #82 car in P7 and points in the sprint race, which is positive. We can start from this in the championship. It was a difficult race weekend because of the change of BoP in the Lamborghini, but quite happy to see compared to the sister car. I was really driving similar to the #63 car which is also positive from our side. We still need to continue to work like this. For sure things, will be better in the future, but great to have two cars finish in the points for the team championship. Now we just need to focus and keep pushing and we’ll see what happens next in Silverstone.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #19 (Andrea Caldarelli, Ezequiel Perez Companc)
Race 1: 12nd (1:25.861) – 40 laps
Race 2: DNF
Andrea Caldarelli: “It was a very unfortunate race for us. We were pushing as hard as we could in Race 1, but we could not fight at all today which is frustrating.”
Gottfried Grasser, the Team Owner: “We had a quite good Free Practice. But then we have had another BoP change – the cars have been given 20kg extra. We accepted this and did our best in Qualifying 2 with P4, P8 and P13 and the results weren’t bad with the situation we had. For Race 1, car #63 got a penalty due to the team’s unfortunate mistake when the team pushed the car inside the garage between the two sessions. Race 1 was quite hard for us with the grid starting position but car #63 managed to bring some points home. For Race 2 we had a better start position on the grid and did a quite good race. Unfortunately, #19 had an incident when the Ferrari collided with us and took the car off the track, they could only do a one lap. We pushed our maximum, drivers did a great job, we did no mistakes especially in Race 2 and we had the best second pit-stop. We really hope for a better situation for the next race in Silverstone and to be more competitive.”
The team does not need to wait long for the opportunity to improve on today’s results. In two weeks’ time the GRT Grasser team travels to Silverstone for Round 4 of the 2018 Blancpain GT season and the second endurance race. Be sure to follow events at Silverstone in the UK, over the weekend of 19th – 20th May.
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team/Photo. John Patterson