GRT Grasser Racing Team announced their return from the summer break by throwing down the gauntlet this weekend at the Nürburgring. Clemens Schmid, Kikko Galbiati and Tim Zimmermann fought for top positions in the high-calibre GT3 series right from the start of this fourth round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, but after securing pole position in the Silver Cup, the team did not get the top result that was so well deserved. Their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO was knocked out of the race in an unfortunate collision just before the chequered flag.
Once again, GRT Grasser Racing’s crew had done everything right in preparing for the weekend. In pre-qualifying on the 5.13km GP configuration of the Nürburgring, Zimmermann provided confirmation of all the excellent work done on setup during practice. With his fastest lap, the Lamborghini Junior secured eleventh place in the field of 44 GT3 cars while booking P4 in the Silver Cup.
His showing in pre-qualifying was just a foretaste of the intense battle for grid slots on Sunday morning, and the Austrian Lamborghini team effortlessly built on their strong performance later in qualifying. In a perfect display of teamwork, Schmid, Galbiati and Zimmermann put the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO bearing start number 16 in grid slot ten while also securing pole position in the Silver Cup.
31-year-old Schmid confidently maintained his position at the start of the three-hour race. During the first stint, he steadily extended his lead over his immediate competitors before handing over to Galbiati. The Italian then defended their lead in the Silver Cup against those in hot pursuit as he paved the way for 24-year-old Zimmermann, who took over the wheel for the final hour with a lead of over ten seconds.
However, Zimmermann was put off his stride by a safety car period after about 20 minutes, losing P1 in the Silver Cup to a fellow competitor on the restart after the field had been neutralised. Over the final few minutes, despite this minor setback, it looked like the team would still be able to celebrate their second podium in this year’s GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup after their success at Le Castellet.
Zimmermann was involved in an unfortunate collision in the chicane on the approach to the final turn with less than five minutes to go to the chequered flag. A car in front of him had thrown dirt up onto the racing line, causing him to lose control of the Lamborghini and he was then collected by another driver behind him. He was forced to retire from the race in the pits due to the damage.
GRT Grasser Racing will get the chance to put their disappointment behind them this coming weekend when races seven and eight in the ADAC GT Masters will be contested at the Lausitzring (10th-12th September). The fight for the title in the series is about to hot up for the four Lamborghini drivers, and they will have an opportunity to put things right in the GT World Challenge Europe in this October’s finale to be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Tim Zimmermann: “We had a pretty good qualifying. Clemens and Kikko drove superbly and did a great job in the race as well. Unfortunately, I was taken by surprise in the chicane after someone in front of me drove through the gravel. The rear-end stepped out and I spun. It all happened so very quickly and I’m sorry for the whole team to have ended the race this way. I would like to thank the entire crew for their unstinting work.”
Kikko Galbiati: “Our teamwork was excellent this weekend. We had a good chance of winning, because we’ve worked really hard to improve this year. In motor racing, though, things sometimes don’t always go as you would wish. We did all we could, but bad luck took the wind out of our sails yet again. I would like to thank everyone at GRT Grasser Racing for their terrific performance. Another big thank you also goes to my partners and family for their amazing support every race weekend. I intend to continue to work hard for the last race in Barcelona.”
Clemens Schmid: “I’m very disappointed with the outcome of our race. The team really deserved to finish on the podium. I would like to thank Gottfried and all the mechanics and engineers for putting such a terrific car at our disposal here. Everyone did an amazing job all weekend, and we were finally able to show just what we are made of. I felt very comfortable in the car during my stint and was very optimistic. I thought our pace would be good enough to secure a top result this time. Our retirement was very frustrating but we must look to the future. The potential is there and we still have a chance to make things come good in the final round.”
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “The guys did a mega job this weekend. We really threw down the gauntlet in the Silver Cup after having had to overcome so many obstacles this season. We’ve shown a terrific amount of improvement as a team. Kikko especially has really improved over the summer break. The race was going really well for us for a long time. Clemens had a fantastic first stint and extended our lead. Unfortunately, the safety car period wrong-footed us, but nevertheless, we were still on course to take a podium until bad luck struck again with three laps to go. Tim had little chance of preventing a spin because of dirt on the track. That was a really bad blow, because it cost us second place. You see, everything has to go just right in order to book a top result. Still, two GRT Grasser Racing drivers, Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen, managed to take victory overall and win the Silver Cup. We are just as proud of their achievements as we are of our own and are looking forward to going on the attack together again in next weekend’s ADAC GT Masters.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team/Photo. Alessandro Galli