Forza GRT! The Austrian Lamborghini team celebrated their best result to date in the legendary racing series in Saturday’s DTM race at Imola. In a fiercely contested heat battle at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Mirko Bortolotti and Clemens Schmid kept their cool until the chequered flag and took third and sixth place. Lamborghini factory driver Mirko Bortolotti made up no less than 13 positions in the field of 28 GT3 cars driving the #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. Clemens Schmid had a strong start into the day with fourth place in qualifying and subsequently scored the first points of his DTM career in the race. In the overall standings, Mirko Bortolotti and Grasser Racing remain in second place.
With 16th place on the grid, Mirko Bortolotti had an extremely difficult starting position for Saturday’s race on the 4.909 km Grand Prix circuit of Imola. An incorrectly marked set of tyres in the second practice session on Friday was sanctioned with a ten-place grid penalty. The 32-year-old Italian though was at his best on Saturday following this setback. In the first race over 55 minutes and one lap, he and his crew went all in and were rewarded for their courageous strategy. With perfect tyre management and fast lap times, he got himself back into the game in the first stint. After the pit stop on lap 21, he stormed from seventh to third position showcasing some determined moves. His fightback and the fourth podium of his DTM career were made perfect by setting the fastest lap and collecting a bonus point.
For Clemens Schmid, the knot finally untied at Lamborghini’s home race after a difficult start to the season. The 31-year-old DTM rookie was sensationally on pole course in the first qualifying session until the last minute and eventually secured a strong fourth place on the grid. At the start of the race, he held his own in the leading group and set the fastest lap times in the field over a lengthy period. The early tyre change on the sixth lap proved to be a disadvantage in the final stages. Against the competition on new tyres, the Austrian drove a clever race and was rewarded with a strong sixth place.
Rolf Ineichen experienced a challenging Saturday in outside temperatures of well over 30 degrees Celsius under the Italian sun. With 14th place on the grid, the 44-year-old Swiss showed his best qualifying on his third weekend in the DTM. However, he was forced into the gravel trap by a rival on the opening lap, whereupon he dropped back to 24th position. In the further course of the race, he gradually fought his way forward with good lap times and was finally flagged off in 15th position. Alessio Deledda, the second Italian in GRT colours, had a positive first home race. The 27-year-old GT3 rookie continued his upward trend and caught up with the field with his personal fastest lap.
Mirko Bortolotti (ITA)
#63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO
Qualifying: P6 – Race: P3
Mirko Bortolotti: “After the penalty and starting from P16 on the grid, I didn’t expect to be in the fight for the podium today. Before the race, we even considered whether we should focus on Sunday and save tyres. But of course, we had a plan and it worked out perfectly in the end. We started on the only set of tyres we had used in qualifying and went for a long first stint. It was crucial to manage the tyre in order to have the performance after the others pitted and we were out of traffic. Our pit stop was great and the last 20 minutes on brand-new tyres made the difference.”
Clemens Schmid (AUT)
#85 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO
Qualifying: P4 – Race: P6
Clemens Schmid: “The race went very well on the whole. Over the race distance, it was difficult to preserve the tyres with the mid-engine concept of our car. I had a very long second stint and that affected the pace towards the end. It was then just a matter of managing the tyre and getting to the finish. I spared myself unnecessary fights and secured sixth place. I’m very relieved about my first points in the DTM. We underperformed on the first two race weekends and now we are finally where we belong. I’m happy for things to continue like this.”
Rolf Ineichen (SUI)
#19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO
Qualifying: P14 – Race: P15
Rolf Ineichen: “It’s my first time at Imola and I got on well quickly here, even though we didn’t have a test and were busy sorting out the set-up on Friday. Qualifying went really well, everything was in the right place. In the race, I was pushed into the gravel by another driver on the first lap. I gave him room on the inside, but he didn’t let me survive on the exit. After that we had a clean race with a good strategy and a super pit stop. Well done to the guys who really do a great job every weekend. Eventually I have to be more than happy with 15th place. The pace was there and the car was absolutely on point. Thanks to the whole team for their effort.”
Alessio Deledda (ITA)
#6 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO
Qualifying: P28 – Race: P22
Alessio Deledda: “I feel very comfortable here in Imola. The track is fun and the car handles really well. I have much more confidence and the rhythm was right until the last quarter of the race. After that it became difficult because it got very hot in the car and my ventilation was not strong enough. It became very tiring, but I am still satisfied. It was a good day for the team. Congratulations to Clemens and of course to Mirko, who drove a fantastic race.”
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: “It was a really great day for us and a very nice result at Lamborghini’s home race. This team performance is something we can be very proud of. Clemens and Mirko drove two great races. We had a mega strategy with Mirko that nobody else dared to do in these conditions and it paid off. His performance was incredible and the podium more than deserved. Clemens has now arrived where we wanted to see him for a long time. He delivered in qualifying and in the race and showed what he is capable of. For Rolf, without the incident at the beginning, a points result would have been possible and with Alessio we have also seen progress once more. I’m really happy for the whole team and it would be even nicer if we could go one better on Sunday.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing/Photo. Lamborghini