GRT Grasser Team at Hungaroring: Two Podium Finishes, Championship Lead Extended and P8 – 24h Portimao


Scoring two podium finishes and extending the Championship lead in the Blancpain GT Series, GRT Grasser Racing Team experienced a very successful weekend at the penultimate event of the Blancpain GT Sprint Series 2017 at the Hungaroring near Budapest.

Already in qualifying Mirko Bortolotti put Lamborghini Huracán number 63 on P2 in the first row of the grid. A position he and his teammate Christian Engelhart were able to defend in the qualifying race on Saturday. „At the start we had the dirty line for the first corner and Dries Vanthoor (Audi) managed to defend his lead”, said Bortolotti. „Then our crew did a really good job during the pit stop again and Christian followed this up with a strong stint at the end. finish. Taking these points was and securing a good starting position for Sunday as well was very important regarding the Championship.” Engelhart tried everything to maybe even be able to take the lead: “I tried to push and go as fast as I could during my stint. I managed to close up the gap a bit and thought there was a chance but overtaking the Audi turned out to be a little bit too difficult in the end.”

Also on Sunday in the main race the WRT Audi of Vanthoor and Marcel Fässler took the lead from the beginning, but until his stop just at the opening of the pitstop window Engelhart was able to stay close to the Swiss driver. A little mishap during the stop meant that Mirko Bortolotti only rejoined the track in third place an immediately got involved in a very close fight with Vanthoor, Jake Dennis (Audi) and Robin Frijns (Audi) In the end he saw the chequered flag in third position in what turned out to be an ever so close race. Only 1,4 seconds separated the top four cars at the finish line. “We gotta be happy with it after the not perfect pitstop. The fourway battle for the win was really cool. Most important wat to further extend auch Championship lead,” Bortolotti stated. Engelhart was also content about the “generally very successful weekend with the two podium finishes. Thanks to the whole team, once again we had a perfect car and together we did something great .....again!”

Team principal Gottfried Grasser was happy as well: “I think we did everything right. Second and third place was really valuable for the Championship. We are now leading the Team Championship with 16 points and the Drivers´ Championship even with 18 points. And now with Nürburgring and Barcelona there are still two tracks ahead off us which suit us rather well. We just have to drive really using our brain and score as many points as possible. Then we have a good chance of taking the title to Austria. The number of race wins is not so important any more, as we are already in front there this year.”

Grasser was also content with car number 19 with Raffaele Giammaria and Ezequiel Perez Companc, which finishes on P13 on Sunday. “Well, Ezequiel had on or the other spin in qualifying and the qualifying race,” which resulted in only P27 in the grid and only an improvement to P21 in Saturday´s race. “But the main race was really top. Speed wise the guys were within the level of the Top Five, which I am really glad with. Now we will go for it and prepare as well as possible for the Blancpain Sprint final at Nürburgring in two weeks time. There will be great news about our driver line-up – I am already looking forward to announcing the details!!!”

Broken Driveshaft prevents Podium Finish at the 24 Hours of Portimao

Parallel to the Budapest Blancpain GT Series race GRT Grasser Racing Team also took part at the 24hour race at Portimao/Portugal, an event of the Creventic Series. In the beginning things went perfectly well for car number 963, where Christoph Lenz (CH), Roberto Pampanini (I), Mauro Calamia (CH), Milos Pavlovic (SRB) and Rik Breukers (NL) where sharing drivers´ duties.

For quite some time, the quintet was able to hold the lead, a win seemed to be realistic. And even after facing a few minor problems, the car was still on a strong course for a podium finish lying in P3 with only two more hours to go. But then a broken driveshaft destroyed all hopes. At least it was possible to rejoin the track after a rather long break for the necessary repairs and to bring the car to the finish line.

Nevertheless GRT team manager Daniel Weber was of course rather disappointed: “This is not the result what we deserved in Portimao. We were fighting for the lead in the beginning and after small issues we still had the third place in our hands until the driveshaft broke after 22 hours. Thank you to all the team for the big effort, so we could keep on fighting and still finish the race in P8. A very special thank you goes to our colleagues from Car Collection Team, who helped us in this situation. That was real motorsport spirit. A huge thank you also to all our drivers. It was a pleasure working with you – you all did a great job!”.

GRT Grasser Program - next races

Nürburgring / 3. Blancpain GT Sprint Cup
15.09. - 17.09.

Sachsenring / 2. ADAC GT Masters
15.09. - 17.09.

Hockenheim / 7. ADAC GT Masters
22.09. - 24.09.

Barcelona / 10. Blancpain GT Sprint Cup
30.09. - 01.10.

24H COTA – USA / 7. Creventic Series
10.11. - 12.11.