Onto the home straight in the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: GRT Grasser Racing Team were contesting the penultimate race weekend of the season at the Nürburgring. With one podium appearance and a points finish, Gottfried Grasser’s outfit once again did him proud. Much of the credit for the result has to go to the pit crew. In the pit lane, the field is as tight as on the race track, and every last tenth of a second counts.
The grand finale to the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe takes place next weekend (6th – 8th September) at the Hungaroring. GRT Grasser Racing will arrive in Budapest occupying fourth place in the team standings. The pairing of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart are currently third in the drivers’ championship.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P1 – Race 1: P2
Qualifying 2: P10 – Race 2: P8
Bortolotti in the number 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO booked pole for the first of the two sprint races. He comfortably defended the position for the duration of the first stint and handed over to his partner in the lead. Unfortunately, Engelhart made a minor error in the last few minutes of the race, which allowed another Lamborghini to get past. He then resolutely defended P2 against the challenge from three Audis, despite acute tyre degradation.
The second race got off to a chaotic start, and Engelhart dropped back from tenth to 17th in the melee. By the midway change of drivers, however, he had worked his way back up to 15th place. Perfect service by the pit crew then despatched Bortolotti onto the track in eleventh place. He subsequently mounted a determined charge through the field to cross the line in eighth.
Mirko Bortolotti: “I pushed to the maximum in qualifying, and I am happy to have secured pole position. The team did a great job and sent me back out on the track with perfect timing so that I had no traffic ahead of me. I had a good stint in the race. Second place is a great result. There is no reason to be disappointed, although a win would obviously have been even more gratifying.”
Christian Engelhart: “The Saturday race was tough. The tyres degraded massively, which is why I lacked the pace. I tried to defend my position and was quite successful in that regard. A misunderstanding led to a contact with an opponent. Luckily, there was no damage. It was one of the toughest races I’ve ever been in.”
Team principal Gottfried Grasser: “Broadly speaking, that wasn’t such a bad weekend. Mirko took pole position for the first race. In the second qualifying, Christian made a minor mistake, without which he might easily have been sixth or seventh on the grid. Overall, we were satisfied with the qualis. In the first race, Mirko had a great stint: he defended the lead well. I would also like to praise our pit crew. The pit stops are getting more and more difficult, because the differences in terms of time are small. In those circumstances, it was a very good performance from our crew. Christian had problems with degradation of the rear tyres on his stint. He defended his position superbly well. However, he made an error ten minutes before the end and lost the rear of his car in Turn 5. This allowed the other Lamborghini to pass. In the second race, Christian got off to a really good start. On the third corner, he saw a gap and went for it. An opponent didn’t see him coming, and there was a contact which dropped him down to 17th. After that, though, it was a very good race. Christian moved up to 15th, and the pit stop brought us out in eleventh. Mirko kept battling away right through to the end and even gained a position on the final lap. Eighth place is a solid result. We’ll be going back home for a short while before heading for Budapest. The track should suit us, and we’ll be in full attack mode again.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team/Photo. Axel Weichert