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  • Emil Frey Lexus Racing looks ahead to debut at Brands Hatch

    Emil Frey Lexus Racing heated-up for start into new season with season opener at Zolder

    Emil Frey Lexus Racing looks ahead to debut at Brands Hatch

    After Zolder and Monza, Emil Frey Lexus Racing is heading to Brands Hatch next week, where the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup is hosted. The Swiss team is aiming to tie in on the latest progress gained at Monza for the traditional upcoming race track, whilst the Lexus RC F GT3 is being prepared intensively at the Workshop at Safenwil for its next race.

    Following on from one retirements in each of the one-hour race at the season opener at Zolder, the team brought both cars home in midfield positions at the three-hours Endurance Cup race at Monza. The Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch marks yet another debut in the still young season: for the very first time both Emil Frey Racing and the Lexus RC F GT3 will take to the four-kilometre-long track, suited in South-East England.

    The expectations are still kept realistically due to few races on the new Pirelli tyres. The team is aiming to implement the gained knowledge as swiftly as possible and is pleased with the development to date, looking positively ahead to the next challenge.

    “We managed to gain a lot of new data at Monza and have learned a few new things about the car”, says Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “In the days leading up to Brands Hatch we will analyse all data and look into the preparation of the Lexus for a new track. We hope, that we can take the progress we made at Monza to Brands Hatch and continue to improve.”

    The track layout of Brands Hatch features a similar characteristic as Zolder, however, following recent experience values, both engineers and mechanics know of the quality and the character of the car.

    “In Monza we improved step-by-step each day and both Lexus RC F GT3 set consistant lap times”, says Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing. “In qualifying, we did not live up to the full potential of the car and a result in the upper midfield was currently the maximum. It was important for us to see the chequered flag with both cars after three hours to collect as much data and experience as possible. There is a tight schedule at Brands Hatch with the qualifying following straight after two Free Practice sessions, whilst both races are taking place on Sunday – there is no room for mistakes. We will implement the new knowledge from Monza accordingly, using it for the next race weekend at Brands Hatch and hoping to keep up the momentum.”

    The Sprint Cup takes place at Brands Hatch (England) from 05 – 06 May. The one-hour races will both take place on Sunday at 12:00 pm and 4.30 pm respectively and broadcast live via: www.blancpain-gt-series.com/watch-live

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14

    Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)

    “As a team, we are on the right way and the Lexus has definitely improved compared to the beginning of the season. We have only had two race meetings on different tracks and tried a lot. Brands Hatch is a bumpy track just like Zolder, it will not be easy for us. But we are excited ahead the weekend and I am super motivated, because I can see there is a continuous improvement.”

    Christian Klien (A)

    “We have made quite a step forward at Monza and have to keep up this momentum now from race to race. Brands Hatch is similar to Zolder and for the team and Lexus completely new, but now we understand both the car and the Pirelli tyres better. I expect to see a further improvement.”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114

    Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)

    “I was pleased with the Lexus at Monza, because other than at Zolder we were able to overtake and push. But we are still lacking a lot of performance to run further up. We should score our first points of the season at the next race in order not to lose touch, that should be the goal of everyone. It will be very difficult as the competition is extremely tough, but to run in the Top-20 is not where we want to be.”

    Norbert Siedler (A)

    “I always enjoy coming to Brands Hatch. It is great, that there are still tracks with hardly any safety zones and that you cannot make a mistake, not like with the new Formula 1 tracks. I am looking forward to the round and hope, that we can develop the Lexus RC F GT3 further.”

    Lexus Monza 2018

    Both Emil Frey Lexus RC F GT3 see finishing line at Endurance Cup in Monza

    Emil Frey Lexus Racing showed a clear upswing at the second round of the Blancpain GT Series and the season opener of the Endurance Cup. After the disappointment from Zolder two weeks ago, both Lexus RC F GT3 saw the chequered flag after the three-hour race in Monza (Italy) and secured 17th and 21st place after an improving performance throughout the weekend.

    The weekend started off with an extensive test session on Friday, which the team thankfully took to try different Setups. Both Lexus were running on different settings in order to define the best way and this was reflected in the positions 23 and 47 in Saturday’s Free Practice. The #14 set the 23rd fastest time in Pre-Qualifying, whilst the sister car with the 114 finished in 15th place.

    After the three qualifying sessions, from which the average determines the starting position, the Lexus team demonstrated clear improvements and qualified in P21 (#114) and P22 (#14) from a total of 54 GT3 cars.

    The starting driver Christian Klien (#14) had a good start into the first Endurance Cup race for the Lexus RC F GT3. Stéphane Ortelli had to avoid a car at the start and lost positions. Both Lexus, however, managed to improve seven positions until the pitstop. Unfortunately, the good work was destroyed by drive-through penalties for both Lexus: the #14 was penalised due to an “Unsafe Release” at the pitstop, the #114 didn’t slow down in time for the Full-Course-Yellow since the team had issues with the radio and could not reach the driver. Marco Seefried pitted the #14 from P20 for the driver change, Markus Palttala the #114 from P19.

    The last race stint was taken over by Albert Costa Balboa and Norbert Siedler. After two solid stints, Costa Balboa crossed the finishing line in P17 for the #14, the Austrian Siedler came home in 21st place.

    The third race of the season of the Blancpain GT Series and the second race weekend of the Sprint Cup will take place on 05 and 06 May 2018 at Brands Hatch, England.

    Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing

    Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing

    “After the first race at Zolder, the engineers and mechanics worked really hard in our workshop trying to understand the problems better. Luckily, we had two test sessions at Monza which we used to try different things as well as the performance and drivability of the Lexus. We tried different Setups on both cars to see which is more efficient. In the end we could see, that there is still a lot of work ahead of us, but we are on the right way.”

    Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing

    “Unfortunately, the #114 had to accept a drive-through penalty, as we suffered communication issues during the Full-Course-Yellow and our driver did not slow down in time. The #14 left the pit space after the first pitstop too close to the entry of another car, which race control valued as an “Unsafe Release” and a further drive-through was given. We have collected many data at Monza, which we will look at now in our workshop.”

    Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Racing

    “Although the weekend was not easy for the Lexus with the pre-tests on Friday, we still continuously worked on the Setup and found a good direction in the end, which made the tyres work and improved the balance of the car. The team worked very well and despite the penalties we showed a good performance in the race!”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14

    Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)

    “On Friday, I drove into the Top-6 with new tyres, but we could see that there is still a lot of work to do. Especially here at Monza with over 50 cars on the track, the qualifying is crucial. We managed to qualify in the mid-field and also finished the race there. In the end, we know the car can win, we proved so impressively last year. We were a little bit better in Monza than in Zolder, we didn’t start from zero but from two. Of course, we always want to win, but to do so we always have to give our best.”

    Christian Klien (A)

    “The start was very exciting as we were four cars side-by-side heading down to the first chicane. I managed to squeeze by a few cars and the performance of the Lexus RC F GT3 was very good in the race. I was able to attack, to overtake and made up some places. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the radio during the Full-Course-Yellow and the team could not reach me. We were given a drive-through penalty in due course and lost many positions, which we gained in hard work before. An unlucky situation.”

    Marco Seefried (GER)

    “Both Lexus showed a similar performance during qualifying and we must stay realistic and see, that we are currently running in the mid-field. After the qualifying, we did some changes to the Setup, which we tested in the practice sessions in the long-runs. We have always given our best. It was not an easy race. I tried to save my tyres as much as possible, but that was not simple in warm temperatures as we had them in Monza today.”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114

    Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)

    “We were not where we expected to be this weekend, especially in qualifying. But considering there were 30 cars within one second, we can be pleased. At the start, I was caught up behind a car and some other competitors overtook me and I lost some positions. The good thing is, I was able to overtake and I was really happy with the speed, but in the end, it was not enough.”

    Norbert Siedler (A)

    “We started well with the practice sessions, but we found out pretty quickly that we have to improve a lot to make the car quicker, especially in the long-runs. We could already see improvements in qualifying and continued to get better. The race performance of the Lexus was good.”

    Markus Palttala (FIN)

    “The last time I drove for Emil Frey Racing was at the 24-hours race at Spa two year ago and since then, the team has immensely developed and has grown stronger. We need time to test the car. The winter tests were good, but then you come to Monza with 26° degrees and all is different, it was good that we had the extra day testing on Friday to drive the car. I don’t know how long it will take, but we are a good team and I think we will have some good results during the season.”

    Lexus Zolder 2018

    Emil Frey Lexus Racing prepares for second Blancpain GT Series round

    Following the difficult start into the Blancpain GT Series with the Sprint Cup at Zolder last weekend, the racing circus continues for the Emil Frey Lexus Racing team with the first race of the Endurance Cup at Monza next week. The drivers of the Lexus RC F GT3 #14, Albert Costa Balboa and Christian Klien, are joined by Marco Seefried, whilst Markus Palttala teams-up with the sister car #114.

    The team returned disappointed to Safenwil after two retirements and two race results outside the Top-10 is now using the two weeks between the races to evaluate the collected data and information from Zolder. “Despite the track characteristics of Monza being completely different to Zolder, it could still be a rather difficult weekend for us”, analyses Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Racing.

    “We have to look at the data from Zolder and take actions respectively. However, it is unrealistic, that we will have sorted out all issues by Monza since there is not enough time. We find ourselves in a continues development process and now it is recommended to understand how we can improve the driving behaviour and performance. Especially for Monza it is essential to have a good driving balance and braking stability. Therefore, we work on the Setup for the Lexus primarily in that direction.”

    Monza is known as a high-speed track, which asks for a high-end speed and a good delay, all features of the Japanese racing car. “Due to all the uneven surfaces and bumps, as you can find them at tracks like Zolder, the Lexus RC F GT3 reacts nervously and the drivers can´t take the curbs as other cars can”, says Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing. “We have tested a few days at Monza and even if we have not found the perfect Setup, I am convinced that Monza will be better for us.”

    In addition to some test days, the Emil Frey Lexus Racing team has already raced at the six-kilometre-long track suited within the Parco die Monza last year as part of the International GT Open. “Monza is not a stranger to us and we are more familiar with the Endurance than the Sprint Cup”, adds Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing. “There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but we are excited about the next race and look forward to Monza.”

    The Endurance Cup takes place at Monza from 20 – 22 April 2018. The three-hour race starts Sunday, 22 April at 3:00 pm and is streamed live at: www.blancpain-gt-series.com/watch-live

    For more information, please visit www.emilfreyracing.com

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14

    Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)

    “Zolder showed us that there is still a lot of work for to do, especially with the Pirelli tyres. The Lexus is a very fast car, but we have to work into the right direction and lay all focus on that. Monza should be better, because we tested there and were pleased with the lap times. We are all very good drivers, we are a great team and the results for the next race should look better.”

    Christian Klien (A)

    “The season opener at Zolder was very difficult, but we managed to improve every day. Monza is a totally different track and should suit the Lexus much better. However, our speed is still not there where it should be to keep-up with the fastest teams.”

    Marco Seefried (GER)

    “I think, there is a certain amount of pressure on us, because it does take something to be one of only a few representatives for a brand such as Lexus. In addition to new drivers there have also been a number of new people joining the team during the winter. I felt comfortable right from the start with the Lexus, as the car gives a lot of feedback. It is important, that there is one driver per car, that knows the Lexus from last season, that helps a lot.”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114

    Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)

    “With 13th and 14th place at Zolder we were certainly not happy, but we are in a learning curve. We know the whole project goes back to good teamwork and we will come back stronger. We must work hard to catch our competitors, but we as Emil Frey Lexus Racing are fighters and even if there is not enough time until Monza, we will give our best.”

    Norbert Siedler (A)

    “We must put a few more tests into the car, to understand the Setup with the new tyres better. Our winter tests at Monza were good, but we should not expect too much for the race weekend. It would be good to qualify in the Top-20 and together with Stéphane and Markus, we have three strong drivers, it should be possible to make up some positions during the race.”

    Markus Palttala (FIN)

    “I am looking forward to my new challenge to start for the Emil Frey Lexus Racing Team. We showed a good performance at the winter tests and despite Zolder being difficult for the whole crew, I am positive that we will be better at Monza. The team is excellently positioned, the Lexus is a highly-developed car with many great features, we simply have to find our way as a team in both the Blancpain GT Series and with the Pirelli tyres.”

    Lexus Zolder 2018

    Difficult start to season for Emil Frey Lexus Racing with Sprint Cup at Zolder

    With the start of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, Emil Frey Lexus Racing began its new season this weekend. At the Belgium track at Zolder, which was found in 1963, the Lexus crew experienced a tough weekend for the first race meeting. Despite to retirements and the positions 14 and 13 for the Lexus RC F GT3 #114, the Swiss team continuously improved over the course of the weekend, however, the team is still facing a lot of work before the next race at Monza in two weeks’ time.

    The first of two 80-minutes free practice sessions on Friday were interrupted by two red flags as well as several yellow phases. The Lexus crew missed out on many fast laps and it was difficult to get to know the track and its conditions. The positions 19 and 20 and 13 and 17 respectively from the second Free Practice reflected this.

    The first shakedown for all 22 GT3 cars took place on Saturday morning with the qualifyings. Compared to last year, there are two qualifying sessions this year which results build the grid for each one of the one-hour races on Saturday and Sunday. The qualifying race as known from previous years is replaced by a Sprint race that gets equal points as the race on Sunday.

    Albert Costa Balboa took behind the wheel of the #14 and placed the Lexus RC F GT3 in a good 11th position. Team-mate Stéphane Ortelli set the 16th fastest time in the sister car #114. The second qualifying was disrupted once more by two red flags and the Lexus drivers Christian Klien (#14) and Norbert Siedler (#114) reached 16th and 18th place following a difficult 20-minutes session.

    Race #1, Saturday, 07 April 2018 – 60 Minutes
    The start into the first race of the new season came to an early end for the Lexus #14. Costa Balboa was caught up in the starting turmoil and was carried into the gravel. The Lexus RC F GT3 suffered severe damage at the front right and the cooling system, forcing the team to retire the car on lap five. Ortelli was able to put pressure on the #37 BMW in front of him right from the start showing the potential of the Lexus, however, Zolder made it once again difficult to overtake. The Monegasque pitted early, handing the Lexus #114 to Norbert Siedler from P17. The Austrian returned in 14th place and kept the position until crossing the finishing line for his first race for the Lexus team.

    Race #2, Sonntag, 08. April 2018 – 60 Minutes
    In sunny and warm Sprint temperatures, the second race of the Sprint Cup weekend took place. Christian Klien improved by two positions at the start and pitted from 14th place. The Spaniard Costa Balboa took over the #14, however, as per the day before he suffered bad luck and was forced to retire the car at the pits shortly before the race ended. Norbert Siedler took behind the wheel of the sister car #114 and was also able to make up some positions until his pitstop. Stéphane Ortelli had a charging stint and finished the race in a good 13th position.

    The second race of the Blancpain GT Series and the first race of the Endurance Cup will take place in two weeks (20 – 22 April 2018) in Monza (Italy).

    Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing

    Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing
    “We did not have any references for Zolder compared to other teams here at the Sprint Cup, therefore both we as a team plus two of our drivers had to get to know the track first of all. Of course, we did not have any great expectations, but the weekend was still a disappointment for us. It is positive that we managed to improve from the first free practice session on Friday morning until Sunday’s race. There is not a lot of time until Monza, but Monza is a track that we know with the Lexus RC F GT3.”

    Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
    “After the number 14 was forced to run wide into the gravel and across the green following the starting turmoil into the race on Saturday, the brake cooling system was filled-up completely with dirt which resulted into the overheating of the brakes. Due to safety reasons, it was impossible to continue in the race. We arrived at Zolder, a track that was basically new to us and for which we did not have the relevant experience and data. Therefore, we had to learn the track´s characteristics to find the right Setup, which was not easy as we are still in the learning process for the tyres and its appropriate chassis tuning on both the Lexus. The whole team has worked extremely hard over the past few days and we continue to make small steps forward.”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14

    Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
    “It was the first time for me to drive at Zolder. It was a totally new experience for all of us and we continue learning. At the end of the day, Zolder was a test for us. We faced quite a few problems, that will be difficult to have sorted out before Monza. Moreover, Zolder is not a track that suits the Lexus, therefore the next race at Monza should be much better for us.”

    Christian Klien (A)
    “For me, the race weekend was a personal premiere, as I had never driven at Zolder before. Due to the early retirement for Albert on Saturday, I did not get to drive. I especially looked forward to the start on Sunday. The start was exciting and I made up a few positions. After that the race was easy, because Zolder is such a tight track that overtaking is very tricky so I was stuck behind a group of cars until the pitstop. Zolder was a disappointing start to the season, but we are looking positively ahead to Monza.”

    Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114

    Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
    “It was all new to us and there is still a lot of work we have to put into the Lexus RC F GT3. I had hoped to qualify better than P18, because overtaking at Zolder is so difficult, but it was not possible. We fought with understeering throughout the weekend and were lacking 1.5 seconds to the front runners, which is very frustrating. We are on the right way and I am confident we will have a better track with Monza.”

    Norbert Siedler (A)
    “The start into Sunday’s race was very chaotic, but afterwards I was doing well. We were having issues with high brake temperatures at Zolder and I tried to save them as much as possible to hand the car over to Stéphane in good conditions. I could have driven faster than the Audi ahead of me, but it was not possible to overtake.”

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