The GRT Grasser Racing Team completed a busy weekend by taking a podium in Race 1 for the 6th round of the Blancpain GT Series at the Misano World Circuit.
It’s been a busy schedule, particularly for the engineers and mechanics. Due to some issue on Friday, the #63 car was only able to complete 5 laps in Free Practice and no driver was able to spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel. Christian Engelhart started Race 1 from P9 and moved the car to fifth position when it was time to hand over the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 to his teammate. After a perfect pitstop Mirko Bortolotti brought a fabulous 3rd place home for the team. It was a different story in Sunday race for the #63 due to a tyre puncture. Unfortunately the team finished in P18.
After taking fourth place in Race 1 yesterday and showing a strong performance, the duo of Andrea Caldarelli and Ezequiel Perez Companc had a harder time of it on Sunday in Italy. The #19 car had got a puncture two times and could only finish in P20.
Despite technical issues on Saturday, car #82 with Franck Perera and Loris Hezemans were not able to finish the race. With a perfect second Qualifying, drivers started the second race from P2. After contact with the #88, Franck Perera was forced to pit early with a puncture and that costed a possible podium for the team on Sunday. At the end of 37 laps the car could manage 7th place and earned important points for the championship.
Now it’s time to prepare for the big one: the Total 24 Hours of Spa! It takes place on the historical francorchamps track from 26th to 29th of July, with an official test day on the 3rd of July.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #63 (Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart)
Race 1: 3rd (1:34.552), 37 laps
Race 2: 18th (1:34.921), 37 laps
Mirko Bortolotti: “It has been a positive weekend. We scored a podium in Race 1 and finished in P3. It was a pretty good race and we showed a good performance. Unfortunately, I started Race 2 from P4, but kept that position. But unluckily at the end of my stint I’ve had a puncture and our race was basically over at that moment. Considering that I didn’t do any laps during Free Practice on Friday, I am happy with my lap in Q2. But just couldn’t benefit from the good starting position.”
Christian Engelhart: “I’m very happy with our podium in Race 1. However, today it has been a very disappointing race, because we were in a position to take another podium. We had a tyre puncture and didn’t have the chance to fight for the podium. Now we just need to focus on our preparation to the 24h of Spa.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #82 (Franck Perera, Loris Hezemans)
Race 1: DNF (1:34.223), 28 laps
Race 2: 7th (1:34.960), 38 laps
Franck Perera: “It was a very unfortunate weekend for us. Yesterday we were fighting to get to P6, but a gearbox was broke. Today I started from P2 and it was really interesting to get back to the top of the race, I really enjoyed the battle. Then Mies passed me and I was third. We had a great battle and I think I was a little bit quicker than him, until Marciello #88 hit me and I got a puncture so we lost time and finished in P7.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 #19 (Andrea Caldarelli, Ezequiel Perez Companc)
Race 1: 4th (1:34.437), 37 laps
Race 2: 20th (1:35.331), 36 laps
Ezequiel Perez Companc: “The race was quite tricky for us. We had a puncture during Andrea’s stint at the beginning of Race 2 which dropped us back down the grid. After that we have had another puncture just before the pit window opened and when I jumped in the car we were already 2 laps behind so there wasn’t much chance to fight for the podium.”
Andrea Caldarelli: “Unfortunately we finished the weekend with two tyre punctures, but generally speaking it was a positive weekend, with P4 in Race 1. The podium was very close yesterday, considering that we didn’t test here before.”
Gottfried Grasser, the Team Owner: “Race day one was very good, and we were quite happy. We know 3rd and 4th place was a great result for the team. I think over the whole weekend we were quite happy with all our cars in general from a performance side. But we suffered a few punctures on day two and this was because we had to make a very aggressive set-up to match the pace with the other cars. So maybe that is something that we must learn and improve from this side. Unfortunately, the second day was a little bit disappointing because there were so many influential things that happened. The drivers didn’t make any mistakes, neither did the team and our pit-stop performance was the second best on the grid, and in overall a great team performance, but luck wasn’t on our side with the two punctures. Also, car #82 had an innocent accident, that costs the crew a possible podium, but this is part of the game. If this wasn’t the case, then there could have been an opportunity to put another car in front of the grid. But we are looking forward to the upcoming test in Spa where we can work on a lot of things to help us prepare for the big one. We are really motivated, and we know that we are not that far off, so this gives the team an extra motivation, and I must say from this weekend, I am really proud of the team and overall I’m very happy.”