Emil Frey Racing presented itself from its strong side once again at the second race meeting of the International GT Open. After a solid race on Saturday at the Hockenheimring, both Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO took the front row in qualifying on Sunday morning. A straight start-to-finish victory followed on the double pole position for Norbert Siedler and Mikael Grenier in the number 14 car, closely followed by the sister car number 63 of Albert Costa Balboa and Giacomo Altoé. After the great success, the Swiss team is once again leading both the team’s and drivers championship.
In both free practice sessions on Friday, the team worked to find the ideal Set-up for the coming days after having tested here two weeks ago in the rain only. With seventh and ninth as well as fifth and tenth respectively the two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO were running in the competitive midfield.
Race 1 I Saturday, 25th May 2019 – 70 minutes:
After a short delay, the first qualifying of the weekend went ahead on Saturday midday in sunny conditions. The 24 competitors did not give anything away with the first 16 cars running within one second at the start. In a difficult 30-minute session, which was shortly interrupted due to an accident, the Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini qualified in 7th place for Mikael Grenier in die number 14, whilst Albert Costa Balboa put the sister car number 63 into eight place.
Both Lamborghini pilots had a good start and whilst Costa Balboa stormed to gain two positions on the first race metres, he was forced to settle back in eighth place after the first lap. The Safety Car was deployed on the second lap following an accident at the hairpin, bringing the field back together. It was “Go, go, go” again on lap 4. After Costa Balboa going passed the McLaren of Kodric on lap 8, the Emil Frey Racing cars were flying in formation around the track in sixth and seventh place. At this time in the race, a total of four cars were fighting closely for position six, which Costa Balboa took over from his team-mate Grenier going into Turn 6 on lap 10.
Grenier pitted on lap 14 and after the obligatory 15-seconds extra time due to the race win from Paul Ricard, Norbert Siedler joined the race again in P13. Costa Balboa came into the pits as one of the last cars and handed the number 63 over to team-mate Giacomo Altoé, who re-joined in 11th place.
Both Siedler (in P8 after lap 25) as well as the young 18-year-old Altoé made steady progress. Altoé took fourth position from the #59 McLaren of Chaves on lap 27 and was running in second place in PRO. Siedler had a fierce fight with the Aston Martin of Turner for a number of laps. On lap 29, he exited the hairpin better and drove past the Aston Martin on the run towards Turn 7.
Towards the end of the race, Altoé put pressure on the #20 Mercedes of Pierburg only to overtake him on the last metres of the race – however, a three-second-penalty put him back from third into fifth place (P3 in PRO). Siedler crossed the finishing line as seventh overall and fourth in the PRO-Class.
Race 2 I Sunday, 26th May 2019 – 60 minutes:
Both Norbert Siedler (#14) as well as Giacomo Altoé (#63) set the absolute best lap time on their first fast lap out on track in qualifying. Siedler had another good run on his ninth lap and secured Pole Position. Altoé completed the great result by storming to take second place on the grid by a fraction of 0.005 seconds behind his team-mate – Double Pole Position for Emil Frey Racing for the weekend’s second race.
Both Lamborghini drivers kept their positions at the start whilst Siedler was able to pull away to a gap of three seconds. Altoé was put under pressure of the incoming #96 Aston Martin in third place, but was able to push on the performance to also extend to a gap. Siedler was the first to pit of the two Emil Frey racing cars, coming into the pits on lap 17 with Altoé handing over the car number 63 to Albert Costa Balboa on lap 18.
The number 14 remained in the lead following the pitstop and Costa Balboa fell back into third place behind the Aston Martin after having had the obligatory five extra seconds added to the pitstop time. However, the Spaniard was able to pass the Aston Martin on lap 24, overtaking the competitor going towards the Mercedes grandstand to take second place.
The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO number 14 and 63 crossed the finishing line in formation, securing the first-ever double victory in the history of Emil Frey Racing with a gap of almost ten seconds.
The next two races will take place in two weeks with the International GT Open Series visiting Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) on 8th and 9th June 2019.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing
“We were able to improve the qualifying’s performance on Sunday. Of course, we are starting to understand the for us still new Lamborghini better lap-by-lap. Once we had a clear road ahead, we were very strong, but once we were stuck in traffic, McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes were far quicker than us. In Sunday’s qualifying, we had a bit of luck with our double pole since two competitors didn’t or couldn’t finish their fast laps, therefore realistically speaking we would have ended up in third and fourth place. All-in-all, the result was very good and shows we are on the right way. We still had to fight very hard in the race on Saturday and were constantly running on the limit. Our pace in Sunday’s race was better and we controlled the race. It was fantastic to have secured a double victory. It was a strong team and drivers achievement.”
Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Racing
“It was not that easy to find the right Set-up for the dry and warm conditions, after having tested her in the rain before. The grip level and track characteristics here at Hockenheim are not comparable to the other tracks where we have driven on this year. We managed to change a lot on Friday ranging from the tyre pressure to the damper settings. We were not quite happy on Saturday, we exceeded our expectations in qualifying but were lacking pace in the race. Qualifying on Sunday showed that once we can push for one clear lap we are very fast.”
Driver Quotes Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Norbert Siedler (AUT)
“I am very happy to have secured the first Pole Position for Emil Frey Racing with the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. The performance in qualifying has improved a lot as we have put in a lot of emphasis into the Set-up work and different changes. But we had no chance against our competitors on the straights with the current Balance of Performance. Overtaking was extremely difficult and I was only able to overtake the Aston Martin, for example, as I exited the hairpin better. I would not have expected to be able to pull away on Sunday. I had a good start and a gap early on, which I managed to keep. Big thank you to the whole team for a great job throughout the entire weekend.”
Mikael Grenier (CAN)
“I think, we could have been better in qualifying on Saturday, but the red flag happened at a bad time for our tyre management. The Pole Position on Sunday was great. We had to work on our race pace this weekend. Despite the 15-seconds time penalty, we had a decent race on Saturday and were only 12 seconds behind the second place. It is fantastic that I have won a race here at my very-first race weekend at the Hockenheimring. It has been a great team result with P1 and P2.”
Driver Quotes Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“I had a good opening lap going into the first race, but then I had an incident with two other car, I was hit and I lost the positions again. Then I was running behind Mikael (Grenier) and I was pushing a lot. There was a car losing oil and I got it all on my windscreen and another car went out on the grass putting all the dirt on my windscreen too, so visibility was very bad and for four or five laps I orientated myself on the curbs to stay on track. So, I was not fast enough because I had this handicap. It went much better on Sunday and I could take full advantage of the Lamborghini’s performance with fast lap times.”
Giacomo Altoé (ITA)
“I like the track at Hockenheim a lot and it was great fun racing here, because the field was so close together, which is great for the championship. The lap times were very tight in qualifying. We had to fight with the performance a little due to the BoP, we drove on the limit at all times, but that is part of Motorsport and we have to accept it. It had some great battles in the race on Saturday, but in the end we didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. The double victory and another podium for us on Sunday was a great round-up for my first weekend at the Hockenheimring.”