• Ineichen, Bortolotti, Engelhart and Breukers triumph in the endurance classic on the famous circuit in Florida
• Second GTD class victory in a row for GRT Grasser Racing Team
• Textbook race debut for the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO
• Team boss Gottfried Grasser: “Incredible, a real rollercoaster!”
GRT Grasser Racing Team have pulled off a major sensation: the outfit based in the Austrian town of Knittelfeld has won the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona for the second time in a row. Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rik Breukers successfully defended the GTD class crown for the team they won twelve months ago.
In one of the most nerve-wracking races in the 57-year history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, GRT Grasser Racing Team emerged triumphant after 561 laps of the Daytona International Speedway. The Grasser quartet of Ineichen, Bortolotti, Engelhart and Breukers sharing the cockpit of a new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO displayed nerves of steel in a rain-affected race that was twice halted by the stewards.
Christian Engelhart was the man of the hour, staging an impressive charge through the field in the toughest conditions imaginable. In the final stages of the race, he advanced from ninth to first place in the keenly contested GTD class. Just two hours before the scheduled end, heavy rainfall caused the race to be interrupted a second time – the first time ever that this has happened in the history of the endurance classic. 23 hours and 50 minutes into the race, the chief steward finally decided to call it a day.
In its debut under competitive conditions, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO fielded by GRT Grasser Racing Team showed itself to be more than a match for the other 22 cars in the GTD class. After Rolf Ineichen placed the car fifth on the grid in qualifying, the team was already on course for victory at the midway point of the race. They maintained their position despite the incessant rain of the morning hours as well as numerous potentially tricky safety car deployments.
“Our second victory in Daytona – that’s incredible,” said Rolf Ineichen. “I’ve never experienced a race like this before. The heavy rain made it unbelievably difficult and at times dangerous on the track. But Christian kept his cool and brought the car home safely, even though he probably did more aquaplaning than driving on his stint. We are very happy to have ‘survived’ this race. We can all be very proud to have emerged the winners once again.”
Mirko Bortolotti concurred: “This victory is very special for us as a team and also for me, because I love the race, the atmosphere and also the fans at Daytona. Last year we celebrated our biggest victory to date. So, to return with a new car and win it again in these crazy conditions is something special. It was a veritable battle out there! We were up against everyone and everything, with the weather being the biggest challenge.”
Christian Engelhart: “For me, that was a dream come true on my fifth competitive outing at Daytona. This time, it was a continuous up and down. Ultimately, it was all about coping with the extreme conditions as best we could. In that regard, we did very well. I am very happy for the team – they are like a family for me. In the last stint, I didn’t know that we were actually in first place. I was just doing everything I could to make progress. The victory obviously came as a very positive and surprising result – a highly emotional outcome.”
Rik Breukers: “It was a tough race, with fortunes swinging one way and then another. We had some problems during the race, but that was certainly the case for most of the teams in the field. I am all the more proud of the way our squad performed over the entire duration of the race. And Christian did a great job towards the end, keeping the car on the track and bringing it safely home.”
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “Incredible – that was a real rollercoaster! During the race, we were up among the Top Three no fewer than seven times, but we kept dropping back for different reasons. At the end of the day, though, we were in the right place at the right time. I have to give all credit to our drivers for keeping the car on the track under the toughest of conditions. Our teamwork was spot on, and I was very satisfied with all of our pit stops. So, my compliments to the whole team! Our victory in Daytona last year was an amazingly uplifting occasion, but now we feel like we’re in heaven. On a personal level, I am also delighted with the way things have gone with Lamborghini. We won our first race in 2015 with a Lamborghini Huracán GT3, and now we’ve won again in our first race fielding an EVO. We can all be very satisfied with this fantastic result.”