It was only a gap of 0.344 seconds after three hours of racing, but it was enough: The Austrian GRT Grasser Racing Team with Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli,and Christian Engelhart won the race of the Blancpain GT Endurance Series at Silverstone. For the Lamborghini Huracán number 63 with the three Lamborghini works drivers behind its wheel, it was win number three in a row after the victories at Monza and Brands Hatch. Grasser Racing extended its lead in the Team Championship of the Blancpain GT Series with now 91 points to 15 ahead of HTP Racing. In the Drivers´ Championship Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart have now collected 86 points, leading the Mercedes duo of Franck Pereira and Maxi Bukh by 12 points.
Mirko Bortolotti immediately took the lead from P2 on the grid and also brought the car in for the first pot stop in first place. “Then our guys did a great job again, so Andrea was able to get back out in the lead.” Caldarelli lost first place in traffic, but was always able to hang on to the leaders in third place. “There were a few really tight and critical situations, and it was not easy to always look after the tyres at the same time. But at least I managed to get back to the pots just behind the teo Mercedes.”
The Grasser crew demonstrated an absolute master piece of performance during this pit stop, just gaining the few tenths that enabled Christian Engelhart to hit the track in the lead again. The German managed to increase the gap a bit at the beginning, but later on in his stint he had to face a lot of pressure from behind. „Those last few laps were really difficult. I was surprised that the Mercedes could close the gap so quickly, and I realised it would be a tight finish. The backmarkers did not make it easier for me, but it was exciting. I really enjoyed that and of course we are happy with this win. I think it’s the result of some hard work during the winter. At the last test before the start of the season, we understood the new Pirelli tyre completely, and I think we are getting everything out of the package at the moment.”
Team principal Gottfried Grasser was over the moon about the repeated success of his squad. “It´s unbelievably nice to live this time. Three – or even four – wins in a row, if you count the victory in the Qualifying Race at Brands Hatch as well, in the hardest GT racing series worldwide, that´s incredible, I have no words left. Mirko, Chris and Andrea always show a mega performance, but mainly I am really happy for the whole team. The boys brought the 63 up from P3 to P1 during the last pit stop. Incredible, I still can´t believe we are leading the toughest GT3 series at all.”
Things did not look just as good result wise for car number 19, nevertheless Ezequiel Companc, Raffaele Giammaria and Norbert Siedler drove a strong race. The problems were based in qualifying where P47 was far from a decent classification, “but from that far behind Ezequiel and Raffaele managed to rise close to the Top Ten in the first two hours of racing”, Grasser was rather happy. “Afterwards Norbert unfortunately had a slight spin, so we dropped back a little bit again, but with P17 in the end we can be quite content. Who else overtook 30 cars in such a strong field? It was a great job by the guys!”
There will be no rest for the successful team, as already at the coming weekend the challenges will continue with the second weekend of the ADAC GT Masters at Lausitzring. There Mirko Bortolotti and Ezequiel Companc will share driving duties in car number 19, while Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen will be seen behind the wheel of car number 63. Grasser can´t wait to get to the event: „At Lausitzring the ADAC GT Masters shares the track with the DTM. Driving in front of such a huge crowd is something special, we are really looking forward to it!”
Press release GRT Grasser – Wolfgang Koepp