The GRT Grasser Lamborghini Team had a successful start of the season with victory at Zolder (B)

10.04.2018

After victory in the first race of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zolder (B) on Saturday, the second victory for the team of Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) and Christian Engelhart (DEU) with the #64 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 seemed to be within easy reach on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Austrian GRT team led by owner Gottfried Grasser already showed that it had done its homework over the winter. With an impeccable strategy and a perfect pit stop, Christian Engelhart (DEU) and Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) were first across the line in their #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 after 39 laps.

“Following hard work in practice, everything went perfectly in the first race. Christian was able to work his way up from second place on the grid and the only thing I had to do after the pit stop was keeping the Audi team at bay,” Mirko Bortotti was buoyant after his victory.

In the second race of the weekend on Sunday, however, Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) and Christian Engelhart (DEU) didn’t have lady luck on their side. Bortolotti started the race from pole position with the #63 Lamborghini, controlled the entire field while in the lead and established a nine seconds’ margin until the driver change. During the pit stop, however, the team became the victim of the rule change that only allows the driver to start the engine once the safety belt has been fastened. Here, things went wrong while a mechanic thought that the engine wouldn’t start at the same time. He ran to the door on the driver’s side, which is explicitly forbidden. Thus, over 30 seconds were lost in the pits and the team also incurred a drive-through penalty because of the infringement made by the mechanic. Thus, the drivers only finished in eighth place.

Christan Engelhart vociferously criticised the new interpretation of the regulations. “It is a pity for the sport when results are being decided by the fastest seat belt change in the pits!”

On the other hand, the #19 GRT Grasser entry with Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG) and Andrea Caldarelli (ITA) was on the podium with third place on Sunday after having finished sixth in the race on Saturday. “I really saved my tyres while driving because we didn’t have the best pressure in the left rear tyre to push more. Otherwise, we could perhaps have been in contention for victory,” a delighted Ezequiel Perez said.

The third GRT Grasser entry with the #82 Lamborghini Huracán with young Dutch driver Loris Hezemans and Frenchman Franck Perera had a weekend to forget. In the first race, Hezemans had to head into the pits on lap 25 due to a an electrical problem. A few laps were lost before the problem was solved. Then, Franck Perera used the final five laps of the race as a function test. A 20th place finish was the rather lacklustre result.

In the race on Sunday, Franck Perera only made it to the first corner after the start where a rival dealt him a fierce blow on the right rear tyre. A bent trailing arm forced him to retire in the pits after only one lap.

“Of course, my expectations for my debut with GRT Grasser and in the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zolder where somewhat different,” the disappointed young Dutchman Loris Hezemans said.

Nevertheless, team owner Gottfried Grasser was happy with the achievement by his team. “With victory on Saturday, we showed the strength of our team and on Sunday, bad luck took centre stage, but at least we were slightly rewarded with third place for Ezequiel Perez Companc and Andrea Caldarelli.”.


Race 1 - P1 from left: Mirko Bortolotti, Gottfried Grasser and Christian Engelhart


Start race - Blancpain Sprint Series - Zolder (B)