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.”