Emil Frey Lexus Racing tackles this year’s season with good spirits. Following the successful debut year with the Lexus RC F GT3 and third place in the International GT Open, the Swiss team is starting into the new season with the Sprint Cup weekend at Zolder (Belgium) next week. The tests over the winter months made hungry for more exciting racing.
For the season opener of the Blancpain GT Series, Emil Frey Lexus Racing is eagerly waiting in the starting holes. For the first time in the team’s history it competes in the full Sprint Cup – a new format, which demands full attention to have that one perfect race for each one of the one-hour Sprint races. The four-kilometre-long track at Zolder has its drawbacks right for the first race weekend. With its ten corners, three chicanes and two long straights, the former Formula 1 track near Genk is known as being a highly technical track for both man and machine whilst overtaking is almost impossible.
“Realistically speaking we should be pleased with a Top-10 result”, says Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “We certainly have a very good car with the Lexus, but we are still at the beginning with our entry in the Blancpain GT Series and the Setup on Pirelli. We will aim for the best possible achievement.”
During the various test drives in the past weeks, the team did not encounter one major problem with the cars. “We mainly focused on finding the right Setup for the first race at Zolder”, continues Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “We not only worked on the fine-tuning of the chassis since we are driving with Pirelli instead of Michelin as per last year, but also carried out work in the areas such as traction control steering. The intention now is to check each and every detail of the cars in the workshop to ensure our entry at Zolder in the Blancpain GT Series will run smoothly.”
Whilst the team only raced with one Lexus RC F GT3 last year, the Swiss team enters the entire Blancpain GT Series with two Japanese race cars to increase the chance of point finishes. “It is always better to have two irons in the fire, because if one car retires, there is still the chance for points with the second car”, says Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “At the same time, we can gain more information driving with two cars in order to find the right Setup for the different track layouts. However, we are realistic about our goals and know about the strength of our competitors. It will be much more difficult than last year as the competitiveness is immense. We still believe in our product and we have put together a strong package. The driver pairing for both our Lexus #14 and #114 are both very strong and we are all very excited to see how we will do in the first race weekend.”
Emil Frey Lexus Racing will continue working hard for the first race of the season, taking place on 8 April 2018.
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“Everything is new for me this year: new team-mates, new championship. The Lexus is still a new car and we have to find the right Setup. Last year, we drove on Michelin, this year we race on Pirelli in the Blancpain GT Series. But I believe in our team to do a good job. As we are new to the championship we also feel no pressure of having to win races right from the beginning. We will head into the new task step-by-step and it would be great if we could qualify in the Top-10. For me the most important thing is to deliver well this year, to avoid making mistakes and to always get the maximum out of the car. I cannot wait for the season to start.”
Christian Klien (A)
“So far we prepared well during winter testing. I felt very comfortable with the new car from the start. We have a very good product available for this season and we are very competitive. I will drive in the Sprint Cup for the first time and I am very excited about it, because with the Sprint race both team and drivers have to get everything right on the spot. Our competitors are extremely strong and the races are short and to the point. I think, we have strong drivers on both cars and we can look forward to an exciting season.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114
Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
“Zolder is a track with a lot of question marks for us, because we are new to the championship and there are other teams who have raced in the Sprint Cup for more than five years. I won the Sprint Cup in 2013 and have also taken a race victory at Zolder. I think, we will be strong, as at this time of the year it will be cooler and with the weight distribution on our car it will play in our hands. So far, we have been very happy with the tests and the grip of the Lexus. I would say, it would be too optimistic to say we finish in the Top-5, but I am sure we can manage a Top-10 result. It would be good to finish both races in the points. Then we would head fully motivated into the second race at Monza, a track we know very well.”
Norbert Siedler (A)
“I rate the Lexus very highly, however the Balance of Performance usually plays a big part. We will have to work very hard to race right at the front. The Blancpain GT Series is for sure one of the strongest GT championships worldwide. In the Sprint Cup, qualifying is decisive since the races are only one hour long and the grid position is very important. I have collected vast experience as I have race in the Series since 2015, I have also won two races in 2015 with my team-mate Marco Seefried.”
Emil Frey Lexus Racing experiences a special honour: last year’s Lexus RC F GT3, which secured third place in its debut race year participating in the International GT Open, is now virtually available to fight for victories and podium finishes. The Japanese racing car is the latest new entry in the worldwide famous Gran Turismo game.
By entering the most competitive GT3 championship in the world, the Blancpain GT Series, Emil Frey Lexus Racing is facing the highest level of GT3 competition. Now, the strong Lexus is available for everyone whilst playing the Gran Turismo Sport, racing the virtual car on more than 50 different track layouts, battling for positions in great fights. Amongst some further new features, the update delivers three new GT League Events, one Cherry Blossom theme as well as the new race track of Tsukuba (Japan).
“We are very proud to be working together with Gran Turismo and are pleased, that our Lexus RC F GT3 is featured in this well-known game”, says Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “Every motorsport and car enthusiast grows up playing Gran Turismo and until today there is no other game showing this precision, the attention to detail, the pure excitement and the real-life-feeling in the area of racing.”
Emil Frey Lexus Racing celebrated a successful debut during the official test days of the Blancpain GT Series. The Swiss team completed two technically impeccable test days with one Lexus RC F GT3 at the South of France in Paul Ricard, taking a lot of positives into the coming season.
A total of 45 race cars met at the track in Le Castellet for the first showdown. Amongst other GT3 cars, the Lexus was one of the highlights in the Paddock. The number 114 Lexus was piloted by the mixed driver squad of Christian Klien (Austria), Marco Seefried (Germany) and Markus Palttala (Finland).
Glorious sunshine and a dry track offered perfect testing conditions in order to explore, amongst others, the new Pirelli tyres for the 2018 season.
“The test went positively and without any technical issues”, says Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “The two days mainly served to give the drivers another opportunity to get to know the Lexus. In addition, we worked on further optimisations of the Setup. It was specifically special since the track has been completely resurfaced and three corners have been slightly changed. The grip level has been massively increased, which was reflected in the lap times. We were about 3.5 seconds a lap faster compared to last year.”
Emil Frey Lexus Racing visited Paul Ricard already last year for one round of the International GT Open. The team was now able to gain important information about the changes to be well-prepared for the race, taking place from 01 until 02 June 2018.
“All together, we are very pleased with both test days”, reflects Lorenz Frey, who fully acts as Team Principal this year and will not compete as an active driver. “We tested ahead at other race tracks and the feedback we received from our drivers was very positive. The car drives consistently and shows a good reliability, which meant we were able to complete our planned steps during the test. We are looking forward to the season, because the test confirmed that we have a good package and can compete on a successful level.”
This was the last test for Emil Frey Lexus Racing before the season kicks-off on 06 April 2018 at Zolder (Belgium).
For more information, please visit www.emilfreyracing.com