- Free practice used for set-up optimization
- International starting field with 46 cars
- Excellent results for Emil Frey Racing: P18 for #163 and P11 for #14
Imola (Italy), July 27th 2020
Finally, and after a bit of delay, the start of the season kicked off in Imola over the weekend. The extensive safety- and hygiene measures, which the SRO had been working on, was very much visible and tangible. But, as humans are known to be creatures of habit, the team of Emil Frey Racing was able to adapt to the new measures quickly.
GT WORLD CHALLENGE EUROPE with Pirelli
The biggest challenge with regards to the first race weekend was the switching and adapting to the new P Zero DHE-Tires by Pirelli – an advanced model from the previous DHD2.
Free practice & qualifying
For Emil Frey Racing, the race weekend in Imola started with a first test session on Friday morning, which was interrupted by a handful of red flags. Heavy rain started to pour onto the track during the second session and stopped the circuit, despite weather reports having predicted dry conditions. The afternoon progressed without a single interruption but with strong competition.
Both of the free practices on Saturday proved to be a challenge for Emil Frey Racing. Especially for the set-up of #14, as adjustments had to be made for the trio Feller, Siedler and Grenier. The efforts were well worth it. In the three-part qualifyings that started at 17:30, #163 raced to P12, while #14 raced to P25. These improvements set a solid foundation for the race itself on Sunday.
Strong presence on the grid: 46 cars – 10 brands
The first race of the season started on time, on Sunday afternoon at 13:30 sharp and was aired live on TV and streamed in real time on a slew of online platforms.
46 cars from 10 prestigious manufacturers and established international drivers were ready to fight at the starting line-up. Norbert Siedler (#14) and Franck Perera (#163) went first and got ready in each of their Lamborghinis, which, due to COVID-protocol, were allowed to be supervised by only three Emil Frey Racing crew members per car. GREEN, GREEN, GREEN! And so the first race of the season 2020 started. The Frenchman Franck Perera started off solidly and was able to race to P10. However, several interruptions due to car crashes followed. Emil Frey Racing was not involved in any crash.
Unfortunately, luck was not on the side of Crew #14. They lost a bit of time during the pit-stop due the limited space in the pit lane, leading the Lamborghini #14 to fall back to P42. Giacome Altoè took over the Lamborghini #163 from Franck Perera and was able to stay ahead as the fastest Lamborghini and raced to an overall P9. Canadian Mikaël Grenier then took over #14 and immediately started to play catch-up. For a while, he was even able to race some rounds a full 10 seconds faster than the 10 other cars before him. He managed to recover more ground with each round and fought his way back up to P17.
Giacomo as well gave a solid performance: The young-blooded Italian left the other Lamborghini-Teams behind and fought his way up to P8. Unfortunately, the ranking of #163 suffered a setback due to a Drive-Through-Penalty. At the next pit-stop, Ricardo took over #14 from Mikaël and raced to P12. Then, only half an hour before the end of the race, two interruptions had to be dealt with. Finally, Lamborghini #14 finished on P11; #163 on P18. The race team hailing from Safenwil was therefore able to prove themselves a strong opponent at the highly competitive GT3-Championship and took the lead amongst Lamborghini teams.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti (Team Principal)
Despite all the months of intense preparations, we were able to gain more valuable insights from the free practices and qualifying for today’s race. Our target was to make it to the Top Ten. With #14 we almost were able to achieve this target. I am happy with these results and which shows me that we are on the right track. We will return home as the best Lamborghini team and are already looking forward to the first sprint race in Misano.
Jürg Flach (Technical Director)
The race weekend in Imola proved to be a very difficult one. Still, I am happy to have placed in the Top Ten with good results in the qualy and a solid performance on race day. At the start we had some struggles finding a good set-up, but we had the chance to continuously optimize our cars and were able to stay competitive.
Driver Statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #163
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
I am very happy with the results. At the start we were struggling a lot with the car because of the BOP. But the team did a massive job preparing the Lamborghini for the race. Unfortunately, we got a penalty during the race, which made it impossible for us to fight for Top 6. In the end, I was able to make some good overtakes and I’m really happy. I want to thank the whole crew. Every single one did a fantastic job. And of course, my teammates: Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible. I’m looking forward to the next race and I’m very, very motivated.
Giacomo Altoè (IT)
It was quite a packed program at the race weekend here in Imola! I have to admit that it wasn’t always easy driving in this heat and to keep my concentration for one full hour in the hot car. But I’m really proud of the team. We improved a lot since our first test day on Friday. We did a good job and that’s the important thing. Now, the classification is still in provisional because we are under investigation, but a P10 with a drive-through penalty is good. And I think the future will look even brighter because we feel confident. And I’m really happy about this. The crew, my teammates and I all are confident that we will continue to do a good job.
Franck Perera (FR)
For sure we were able to get some points this weekend, which is very positive. I would like to thank the entire crew for what we’ve all done together during this weekend. We really showed a mega performance at this complicated BOP in Imola. Also in general, all of the Lamborghini drivers showed really solid performances – from qualy to race. Of course, it’s a shame that we lost an easy Top 5 because of the penalty. This would have been an incredible result, but still, overall it was a very good weekend. It’s important that we continue to push until the end I’m really proud to be on this incredible team and thankful for my teammates. I’m sure something big will come for us soon.
Driver Statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Norbert Siedler (AT)
I think we can be proud of our performance, seeing that we improved a lot since our training on Friday, which was a bit of a struggle and which saw us competing further back. Now, at the race, we were able to compete at a high level. My stint was okay. I think, however, that I could have driven faster. But I’m happy that, together with the crew and my teammates, we were still able to make the best of it. Of course, it’s a pity that we lost time in the last round… But that’s the sport of racing! Now we want to make sure that we’re back on attack mode in time for Misano.
Mikaël Grenier (CAN)
First of all it was great to be back to racing. It was a very challenging weekend for us for many reasons. We struggled a lot in practice. The team reacted quickly and thanks to Fabio and Sébastien and everyone else, we made a big step in qualy and again a big step in the race and so we were able fight back. Point was possible, but finishing P12 after finding ourselves at P39 at some point in the race is still a very good job from everyone. Now it’s time to focus on our first sprint race in 2 weeks in Misano.
Ricardo Feller (CH)
The weekend at Imola, despite having started with some difficulties, ended on a very positive note for us! The engineers and the mechanics were able to react quickly and address the struggles we had at the start. The race was full of ups and downs: We started in midfield and fell behind. But thanks to the great collaboration with team pilots Mikael and Norbert, we were able to recover some places and fight our way back. After this weekend, we bring home tons of experience and we will continue to work hard on our performance. I’m already looking forward to the next endurance race at the Nürburgring.