Victory for GRT Grasser Racing at the Season Final of the ADAC GT Masters


What a great end of the season for GRT Grasser Racing at the final of the ADAC GT Masters at Hockenheim: A victory in the very last race for Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen gave some extra motivation to the Austrian squad for the upcoming season final of the Blancpain GT Series this weekend at Barcelona, where the drivers´ as well as the team title are well within reach.

During the first race on Saturday Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart managed to climb up from P8 on the grid to P5 at the chequered flag, winning the trophy category at the same time. After an early stop immediately after the opening of the pitstop window, Engelhart returned to the track in P7 and then was able to make up another two positions: “I am really content, this was the maximum today. The first start was rather chaotic. Our topspeed made overtaking quote difficult. I was able to benefit from an overtaking of Markus Winkelhock against Mercedes by passing both of them at the same time. Then I was chasing the Porsche of Michael Ammermüller, but there was no chance of getting by.”

Ezequiel Perez Companc, who already in qualifying was hampered by a red flag and had to start from rather far behind, after three corners innocently got involved into a four cars pile-up, which even caused the race to be red flagged, and had to retire with a severely damaged car. “A day to forget”, his teammate Mirko Bortolotti was disappointed.

On Sunday Christian Engelhart put the number 63 Lamborghini into the front row of the grid, just behind pole sitter Philipp Eng in his BMW: „I really got the perfect lap in there.” During the race a huge quadruple fight for the lead emerged. “I could stick with Eng up to the driver change. Then we tried to pass the BMW by an early pitstop – it nearly worked out. Nick Catsburg did not have the pace during the second half of the race, which meant it got closer and closer also for everybody behind him.” Rolf Ineichen was able to stand his ground in this epic fight which also saw the new ADAC GT Masters champion Jules Gounon in his Corvette seriously involved. He did not do any mistake and crossed the finish line in second place just behind the BMW, which later got a 30 second penalty for causing a collision with Robert Renauer during the last lap, which sent the Porsche driver into a late spin.

So, in the end Ineichen and Engelhart even finished at the top spot of the podium: “Rolf keeping his calm and driving very controlled during the very turbulent last minutes of the race and us now being able to celebrate this win is just fantastic!” The Swiss himself was over the moon as well; “I just can´t believe it, it was the mist difficult race of my life. We have been fighting until the last minute. I am ever so happy. I feel a bit sorry for Robert Renauer, who drove a great race and would have deserved victory as well. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard in the beginning when I tried to pass the BMW, so my rear tyres went down a lot towards the end. It was not easy to keep the Corvette behind me, especially at the hairpin...”

Car number 19, which had been rebuilt overnight in a huge effort of the Grasser squad, finally ended up in P6, the same position Mirko Bortolotti had already claimed in qualifying. But after having been spun around by an Audi just after the start, the Italian and his teammate Ezequiel Perez had to put in a hard fight to make up some lost ground. “Considering how our car looked like yesterday afternoon we can smile again now. Huge thanks to my crew for the hard work!” Also team principal Gottfried Grasser was content about the result, “but mainly I have to express my huge respect for the crew of the 19 for preparing the car so well again after Saturday´s crash when it was nearly a write-off!”

Grasser also draw a very positive resume in general, not only about the last weekend of ADAC GT Masters: “What a great end of the season with the victory of Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart. We are so happy to have finished this ADAC season with such a highlight. I think we can generally be proud of our fifth place in the general classification, especially after not racing at Sachsenring. Three wins and three pole positions are a very good achievement. Now we are already looking forward to the 2018 season!”

But before all eyes will be at the season finals of the Blancpain GT Series at Barcelona this weekend. “It´s all or nothing for us there”, Grasser states. “We have very good chances of winning the divers´ as well as the team championship in the general classification. We will give it all for sure.”

As already announced, GRT Grasser Racing will enter three cars again at Barcelona, as they did recently at the sprint final at Nürburgring. Besides the regular line-up in car number 63 with Bortolotti, Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli two very strong GT professionals will share driving duties in the number 19 with Ezequiel Perez Companc: Renger van der Zande and Frederic Vervisch. The number 82 will also be seen on track again: “I am especially happy that Tom Dillmann will support us again”, says Grasser. “He will share the car with Paolo Ruberti and series junior Giorgio Roda. I am looking forward to racing at Barcelona with these three very strong cars. We will do everything that´s within our hands to claim the title.”