• Successful weekend in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
• Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart twice runners-up
• Team boss Gottfried Grasser: “The pit stop was the key to Sunday’s race: our crew got the car up from fifth to second place”
For GRT Grasser Racing, the Zandvoort weekend was the third of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season after Brands Hatch and Misano. The team arrived at the circuit set amid the North Sea dunes with two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs – the number 63 to race in the Pro class and the number 19 in the Silver Cup. The weekend turned out to be a successful one for GRT Grasser Racing, with two podium finishes, an outcome that puts the team in an upbeat mood as they now prepare for the standout fixture on the race calendar in just two weeks’ time (25th - 28th July), namely the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P2 – Race 1: P2
Qualifying 2: P5 – Race 2: P2
Two second-place finishes on the third weekend of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe were enough to promote the GRT team with Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart to fourth place in the team championship. The two qualifying sessions put them in promising positions on the Zandvoort grid – P2 for Bortolotti and P5 for Engelhart. A slick performance by the pit crew advanced the duo from fifth position to second in Sunday’s race.
Mirko Bortolotti: “It was great to make it onto Saturday’s podium. I am really delighted. I almost booked pole position on Saturday morning. If I’d got it, we would have been on for the win. Christian did a great job. He kept three cars behind him, which is not easy in the Blancpain sprint series. You’re constantly having to attack and to defend at the same time. In the Sunday race, it was really tight between second and fifth, which is where Christian was. Everyone came into the pits at the same time. Our crew were extremely fast and sent us out in second place. I got the maximum out of the fresh tyres after the driver change.”
Christian Engelhart: “The first race was fun, and I’m happy with second place. We decided on an early pit stop, but unfortunately, so did our opponents. At the start of my stint, I was concentrating on what was going on ahead, and I closed the gap to the leader. But I was unable to sustain the challenge and then had to defend against the third-placed driver. Getting second place on Sunday is all down to our pit crew. The guys practise a lot and they pulled off a really excellent stop. That’s how Mirko returned to the track in second place.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19 (Michele Beretta and Rolf Ineichen)
Qualifying 1: P17 – Race 1: P19
Qualifying 2: P15 – Race 2: P17
Meanwhile, in the Silver Cup, Michele Beretta and Rolf Ineichen were experiencing a more problematic weekend. As early as the first lap in the Saturday race, Ineichen was involved in a collision that was not his fault and which dropped him down to the rear of the field. He and team-mate Beretta then struggled with a damaged car for the remainder of the one-hour race. In the circumstances, P19 was a respectable result. On Sunday, Beretta was handed a drive-through penalty for jumping the lights, so once again, the duo were obliged to mount another charge which brought them up to 17th.
Rolf Ineichen: “I got off to a good start in the first race and gained several positions. Unfortunately, I then got shunted from behind which spun me round into an opponent. I was able to continue, but the car was pretty badly damaged. Unfortunately, Michele got off the line too soon on Sunday and was given a drive-through penalty. So it was once again a matter of rolling up the field from the back. The positive thing is that our pace was excellent. We are therefore confident that we can go on the attack at Spa and be in contention for a long-awaited victory.”
Team boss Gottfried Grasser: “It was a great weekend for the number 63 car. The rain restricted the amount of time we were able to put in during the free practice sessions. But despite that, we found a very good setup for qualifying, and the reward for that was positions two and five on the grid. The first race went very well. We worked on the setup before the second race, and that paid off. The pit stop was the key to Sunday’s race. Our crew got the car up from fifth to second place. That was a sensational achievement. As for the number 19, the two races at Zandvoort were basically a training exercise. Rolf and Michele did a lot of testing and showed strong pace in the second race.”