For Orange1 by GRT Grasser, last weekend with their home race at the Red Bull Ring was the highlight of the ADAC GT Masters season. Team headquarters are in Knittelfeld just a few kilometres from the track. The outfit wanted to do well in front of a home crowd – more than 16,000 spectators came to the Red Bull Ring at the weekend. The success they had hoped to achieve came in the second race, as all three Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs finished in the points. The Balance of Performance (BoP), damage to tyres and confusion about track limits prevented a better result in the first race.
Orange1 by GRT Grasser also provided a moment to remember in the pit lane. Their pit crew wore Star Wars outfits for the pit stops in Saturday’s race. “The rules simply stipulate that a helmet and overalls must be worn,” said Team Principal, Gottfried Grasser. “We hit on the idea at Oschersleben of coming up with something special for our home race, and it was fun for us and the fans!” A video of the pit stops is available on the ADAC YouTube channel at youtu.be/0k4B6Iso1nw.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P11 – Race 1: P25
Qualifying 2: P12 – Race 2: P5
In a hard-fought qualifying on Saturday morning with 22 cars covered by one second, Bortolotti achieved the maximum possible with grid slot eleven. He gained ground in the race despite his top speed disadvantage. A successful strategy brought Engelhart back out on track in the same position after the driver handover. However, a few minutes before the end of the race, a puncture wrecked their race. “We were in seventh place – that would have been a mega result,” said Bortolotti. “Looking at the stats, we’ve never had any tyre problems at this track in the last four years, so it came as a surprise.”
Engelhart also dug deep in his qualifying session on Sunday morning to extract the Lamborghini’s full potential. He and team-mate Bortolotti had a perfect race after starting 12th on the grid and were rewarded with fifth place. “We are proud of ourselves, we achieved the maximum,” said Engelhart. “Fifth place is a lot more than is actually achievable with our car. It ran perfectly, but we had too much extra weight on board because of an unfavourable BoP, but hopefully, that will change for Zandvoort.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #82 (Franck Perera/Rolf Ineichen)
Qualifying 1: P23 – Race 1: DNF
Qualifying 2: P17 – Race 2: P7
The first qualifying turned out to be tough for Perera with grid slot 23 in the end, but the Frenchman went on a charge up the field. Team-mate Ineichen wanted to wrap things up, but a puncture slowed down car #82. “We could have finished in the points,” said Perera. Ineichen and Perera charged up the field again in the second race on Sunday and were successful this time. They moved up into P7 from start position 17.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19 (Michele Beretta/Marco Mapelli)
Qualifying 1: P26 – Race 1: P21
Qualifying 2: P21 – Race 2: P12
Beretta and Mapelli also had to contend with an unfavourable BoP and the resulting increase in the car’s weight. A top speed disadvantage is more noticeable at the Red Bull Ring due to its long straights than at Oschersleben or Most. Beretta and Mapelli wanted to fight back in Saturday’s race after experiencing a difficult qualifying session that resulted in 26th place, but like many others, they received a drive-through penalty for disregarding track limits too often. “We focused on sticking to the track limits, but it was not enough,” said Beretta.
In Sunday’s race, the two Italian drivers battled their way up into P12 from grid slot 21 despite running used tyres. “We knew we would struggle with tyres about halfway through the race. We would have liked to finish in the Top Ten, but at least we scored points,” said Mapelli.
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “First, I would just like to say that I was happy to see so many fans at the track. The ADAC is on the right track, otherwise we would not see so many fans in the stands. Unfortunately, it was a difficult weekend for us because of the Balance of Performance. We saw in testing on Thursday that we could not keep up, especially in the first sector. We tried to compensate for that in the first race with an aggressive setup. Unfortunately, the tyres couldn’t take it. Our approach on Sunday was more conservative and earned us points. Positions five and seven are like a win and a third place as far as I’m concerned. It’s incredible what magic Mirko weaved. There are only a few drivers who can do as well as him in such a strong field. It was a satisfactory result from an Austrian perspective, a consolation prize with good points in the second race.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing/Photo. Axel Weichert