It started off positively with Mirko Bortolotti taking pole position in Race 1 with the charging #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 that’s shared with teammate Christian Engelhart. The team felt racy starting from the front row after a successful qualifying session for the final round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at the Nürburgring.
After lights out, Mirko kept that pace in the race and when Engelhart took over the wheel, he brought the #63 home to the top step of the podium in his homeland race. However, post-race drama meant that this was not to be a successful weekend and the final result – a disappointing 13rd place – didn’t live up to expectations.
Following the stewards decision, Engelhart was given a drive-through penalty of 30 seconds when found he was wearing his frontal head restraint over the shoulder straps of his harness, a breach of Article 120 of the Blancpain GT Series 2018 Sporting Regulations. So car #63 had been disqualified from the event for Race 2.
Over to the sister car. With up to 20 cars on track, Ezequiel Perez Companc put the #19 in P8 for the starting grid of Race 1. He showed great performance throughout and after the first lap put the car up to P5. After the obligatory pit stop and driver change, Caldarelli finished in fourth place on the road, following a race-long battle with the #2 Audi, which finished third. However, the #19 was elevated to P3 due to the penalty for the sister car – a podium.
Caldarelli started the first half of Race 2 from eighth position and managed to race up to sixth place after the first lap. When Companc replaced Caldarelli, he continued their impressive progress and brought the car back home in P5.
The GRT Grasser team does not need to wait long for the opportunity to improve on today’s result, with the final of the ADAC GT Masters round taking place at the Hockenheimring on 22-23 September.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #63 (Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart)
Race 1: 13rd (1:55.933), 29 laps
Mirko Bortolotti: “I’m really happy with the performance and the job the team has done. I’m very happy with my Qualifying, taking my second pole in the season in the Sprint Cup. We started the day in the best possible way. I started from pole and defended my lead into the first corner and opened up a gap in my stint. Then Christian continued to lead and managed to finish the job, so we had a perfect Saturday, taking the win and the earlier pole position. Unfortunately, after that we got handed a the 30 seconds drive-through penalty, which obviously destroyed a great effort and the hard work done by all of us. On one hand we’re happy with the work which was done on the track, because we won a race, but on the other hand of course it’s very disappointing to be taken out of the title fight like this. I want to say thanks to the whole team for the great job and giving us the possibility to fight for the title once again, however this was not the end we deserved.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #19 (Andrea Caldarelli, Ezequiel Perez Companc)
Race 1: 3rd (1:55.998), 29 laps
Race 2: 5th (1:56.357), 31 laps
Andrea Caldarelli: “It was quite a positive weekend for us, we scored P3 and P5 in the end. The Quali session was not as we expected, but in the end we scored good points and finished the Sprint Cup in a positive way.”
Ezequiel Perez Companc: “Overall it was a good weekend for us. We were a bit unlucky in Qualifying and started from P8 in both races. I think we made a mega good start. The pace was good but it was difficult to follow the cars in front. Podium on Saturday was very nice, but it could be much nicer to finish on podium without the penalty for the #63 car. Racing is racing. In today’s race I think we could get more, but we were a bit unlucky with choosing the pit stop timing. Generally speaking the weekend was good.”
Gottfried Grasser, the Team Owner: “A positive thing in this weekend is car #19, finished in P5 today and scored a podium in Race 1, so at least one car stood on podium. Andrea and Ezequiel did a very good job and it was a proper race for them. I’m very happy about this fact. Car #63 started the weekend very well with pole position and the race win, and then we received bad news. It is very hard for the team to lose the points and not to have a chance to fight for the title. However, we respect the Stewards decision. I can not say anything about Christian, because he must comment on what happened.
Anyway, it’s a shame and I am a bit disappointed, because we had a chance for the championship and we would have liked to fight in a different way but it is what it is and we accept the situation.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing