Successful second weekend in the ADAC GT Masters for Orange1 by GRT Grasser at Autodrom Most. The Austrian team had an excellent showing in front of some 18,000 fans, who came through the gates over the three days to watch the very best that racing has to offer. After two highly competitive races, Orange1 by GRT Grasser return home with two podiums, one pole position, one fastest lap and a total of 45 championship points.
Orange1 by GRT Grasser will compete in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup on the Paul Ricard Formula 1 Circuit at Le Castellet from 31st May to 1st June before getting ready for the big highlight of the season, their home round at the Red Bull Ring (7th to 9th June).
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #82 (Franck Perera/Rolf Ineichen)
Qualifying 1: P26 – Race 1: P22
Qualifying 2: P1 – Race 2: P2
After securing an impressive third place at Oschersleben, Orange1 by GRT Grasser duo Frank Perera and Rolf Ineichen were able to go one better in Most. The two of them did well on Saturday, especially as regards their excellent race pace, gaining no less than 16 places during the 60-minute round but were handed a retrospective penalty of 30 seconds, which dropped them down from tenth place to 22nd. However, they made up for that the very next day. Lamborghini works driver Perera set a best time of 1:30.767 minutes early on, which the competition were unable to crack before the end of Sunday qualifying. “The car was excellent, and I posted a really strong lap. At Most, it’s vital that you start out from up front,” said Perera.
In the race itself, the Lamborghini works driver got off the line extremely well, but there was no way of finding a reply to the obvious top speed advantage of the Corvette in second place on the grid. “I knew I had to accelerate early to defend my position, but unfortunately, the Corvette was too fast. There was nothing I could do. He was already pulling away from me in the middle of the straight. I tried to brake as late as possible without making contact, but someone hit me from behind and I had to go over the kerbs to stay in P2 and not lose the race,” said the Frenchman, describing the start of the race.
And from then on, it was a matter of defending second place, which Swiss driver Ineichen did as successfully as his team-mate had done before him. “I saw the Corvette coming closer with every lap. It wasn’t easy, because I knew the Vette was very strong on the straights while our car was excellent in the final turn, but given the difference in power, I knew I would be in trouble in Turn 1 if the guy to my rear had got close over the last two corners,” said the Orange1 by GRT Grasser driver. Ineichen finally managed to secure second place.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P2 – Race 1: P2
Qualifying 2: P23 – Race 2: P23
Qualifying for Saturday’s race was incredibly close. Lamborghini works driver Bortolotti posted a personal best time early on and stayed at the top of the timesheet for quite a long time. However, Orange1 by GRT Grasser’s duo slipped back down into second place shortly before the end. Nevertheless, they were well placed to have a successful race and secure vital points from their place on the front row. The start went well and Bortolotti was able to defend his position. “I tried everything at the start to be first out of the first two corners, which is why I was very late on the brakes and I almost pulled it off but took a big hit to the rear and had to shortcut through the chicane. There was no damage, fortunately. The Audi in front of us was a bit stronger on the pace than us, so it was not possible to achieve more than second place at the finish,” said the Italian, summing up his stint.
“We got the maximum out of ourselves and our car on Saturday,” added team-mate Engelhart. “My stint was more difficult than it looked. The Corvette behind us was faster and was able to close the gap, so the pressure was extremely high, but I managed to maintain our position in the end.” While the Orange1 by GRT Grasser duo were able to secure vital championship points on Saturday, things did not go according to plan on Sunday. Problems with the ABS and traffic on their hot laps made it impossible to qualify higher than 23rd on the grid. Also, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO with start number 63 was given a drive-through penalty in the second race following a collision with another competitor, which prevented a better result.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19 (Michele Beretta/Marco Mapelli)
Qualifying 1: P11 – Race 1: P20
Qualifying 2: P21 – Race 2: P11
The situation at the start for the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19 was not ideal on Sunday. Lamborghini works driver Mapelli had to contend with ABS problems in qualifying like Engelhart in the sister car, so it was impossible to qualify higher than 21st on the grid given the conditions. “Unfortunately, my qualifying did not go according to plan because of a problem with the ABS. I flat-spotted two tyres. I had to go all through the quali on a couple of duff tyres, which meant that qualifying higher up than 21st was not possible. The only thing I could do was get the car to the end of my stint in one piece for handover to Michele. We improved by ten places in the end. Our Lamborghini did very well again on Sunday.”
As a result, the driver pairing achieved their third points-scoring result in the fourth race of the season. On Saturday, things looked good for the race ahead after a strong qualifying by Lamborghini Junior Beretta. “My qualifying was actually quite good, but it’s annoying to think that only a tenth of a second separated me from sixth on the grid,” said the Italian. “The first race was chaotic, especially during the start. We exceeded the limit for being stationary by a minimal amount and received a drive-through penalty.” Consequently, Mapelli and Beretta finished the first race outside the points.
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “Basically, it’s been a great weekend for us as a team despite the constant ups and downs. We were on the podium in both races, which is terrific, of course. It’s a pity that cars #63 and #19 had problems with the ABS in Sunday qualifying. You can soon lose ground to the front-runners in this highly competitive championship series. I’m very pleased for Franck and Rolf, who both had a mega race on Sunday following Franck’s fantastic qualifying that morning. At any rate, I’m very satisfied with the team’s overall performance. We’re in second place in the team standings as we head back home.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing/Phot. Axel Weichert