- Starting positions: P6 (#163) and P12 (#14) for the six-hour race
- Race results: P8 (#163) and P11 (#14)
- P5 in overall ranking of the GT World Challenge Europe 2020
Le Castellet (France), November 15th 2020
Free Practice / Pre-Qualifying
Emil Frey Racing took advantage of the free practice on Saturday morning to find the right setup and to give newcomer Mikkel Mac the chance to familiarize himself with the car and the processes. To him, the race weekend came with two firsts: Being part of Team Emil Frey Racing and taking on a race in a Lamborghini. After having been handed over the #163 Lamborghini, Altoè struggled with oversteering and poor grip during pre-qualifying. The #163 crew then adjusted the setup accordingly in time for the qualifying. The two Lamborghinis finished their pre-qualifying on P13 (#163) and P16 (#14).
Altoè (#163) and Siedler (#14) were ready for the first qualifying. The new setup seemed to be a good fit for the Italian who raced to P8. Siedler, at the wheel of the #14 Lamborghini, delivered a strong performance as well and finished the first qualifying on P15. Mac clocked in solid lap times during the second qualifying and finished on P15. Grenier’s motivation was palpable, too. The Canadian was in 12th place with only 5 minutes to go and only 1.2 seconds to catch up on to the leader. Grenier finished his stint on P13. Costa (#163) and Feller (#14) took on the third and last qualifying. The Spaniard didn’t disappoint and drove his #163 masterfully to P2. Feller finished on P19 with the #14. The combined qualifying scores resulted in the starting positions for the last race of the season, which saw the #163 start from P6, and the #14 start from P12.
40 cars were getting ready on the grid of Paul Ricard. Conditions on track were dry. Grenier (#14) and Altoè (#163) navigated a nerve-racking start, where several cars touched at the first chicane. Right in front of Altoè, an Audi started to spin, but thanks to Altoè’s fast reflex, he was able to dodge the Audi. It was a very strong start by Altoè, who then rose to P3. Grenier, at the wheel of #14, pulled off overtaking a Bentley and managed to place himself safely on P13 thanks to a strong lap time. Meanwhile, Altoè managed overtaking, leaving Ferrari behind, which secured him P2. Only 5 minutes later, the Italian took advantage of an error committed by another Ferrari right in front of him, claiming the lead. Then, in the 25th minute, a dramatic moment: Lexus’ Neubauer touched the #14 Lamborghini in the first turn, resulting in a spin. Grenier lost a lot of precious time but was able to continue the race without any damage to the car. After an hour of race time, it was time for both Lamborghinis to make their first pitstops. Grenier as well as Altoè took on double stints. The Canadian managed to place himself on P11 after a successful takeover. 2 hours passed and a full-course-yellow phase had to be introduced because of a Bentley that had come to a standstill. At the same time, Emil Frey Racing performed a pitstop and switched drivers to Mac and Siedler. At halftime, #163 was on P8, and #14 was on P11. Shortly after that, light rain set in. With almost 2 hours to go, Costa took over the #163 in 9th place. Siedler, with the #14, finished his stint on P10, before Feller took over. It was now Costas and Fellers time to shine and to successfully finish the race. With 1 hour and 10 minutes to go before the end of the race, Costa claimed P8 after successfully taking over a Porsche with the #54. Meanwhile, Feller solidly placed himself on P11. 45 minutes before the end of the race and with the sun already setting, the two crews went for a last pitstop. Unfortunately, the #14 Lamborghini got blocked by the #5 Mercedes, which made it impossible for Feller to make up positions. With only 6 minutes to go, Costa made up his mind to take over an Audi – a plan he pulled off 4 minutes later. The #163 crew finished on P8, while the #14 crew made it to P11. Emil Frey Racing finished the 2020 Season of the GT World Challenge Europe in fifth place in the overall ranking and claimed a solid third place in the sprint cup.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal
After a promising start by our #163 and a solid performance by our #14, I was of course hoping for different results. We delivered a strong performance at the start and Giacomo did an incredible job at the very top of the pack. However, due to tire wear, we lost grip and weren’t able to keep the pace throughout the race. We didn’t experience any technical errors or were given any penalties, which, of course, is a good thing. We’re concluding the season in fifth place in the overall ranking and in third place in the sprint series of the GT World Challenge Europe. I would like to thank the whole team for their hard work during this difficult year. The race weekends sometimes took place under very difficult circumstances, but we still managed to participate in all races and to finish the season.
Jürg Flach, Technical Director
It was our goal to finish third in the overall ranking. Unfortunately, our pace wasn’t good enough to reach that goal. Now it’s time to figure out the reasons why and to make the necessary improvements in time for season 2021. Aside from the many great moments, this shall be our motivation to improve. I’m proud of the team, their tireless efforts and of everything we’ve achieved this year.
Driver statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #163
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
After eleven race weekends in a row, this was my last race for the year. This race wasn’t an easy one for me, I have to admit. We were leading the race, but unfortunately, couldn’t keep the lead and finished on P8. We were lacking a bit of speed and couldn’t fight for the victory. The Lamborghini Squadra Corse Team, Emil Frey Racing as well as my teammates did an amazing job. Of course, I wanted to do better but overall, I’m happy with our performance of the year. 2020 wasn’t easy for any of us. So, I’m really looking forward to leaving 2020 behind, and am looking forward to next year!
Giacomo Altoè (ITA)
It was the last race of the season with a new teammate. Unfortunately, Franck was racing in America. We tried to maximize our potential, and as always, we gave our very best. I’ve had a really good start: From P6, I went immediately to P3 and was almost flying with my pace. Then I rose to P2 and straight to P1, so we were leading, which was amazing. After the first pitstop, I started to struggle a lot with the car, especially with the tire degradation in the rear. And from then on, it was a really tough race. We need to look at what happened and what was missing at the end. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the job as we wanted, but nevertheless, things look very promising for the next season. Thanks to the team and my teammates.
Mikkel Mac (DNK)
It really, really was a great experience with the team of Emil Frey Racing. My teammates did an amazing job to help me find the right rhythm with the car and I think we did our best with only one day of testing and then going straight to qualifying, and then straight to the race. We had a lot of fights with other cars in the middle of the race, and I learned a lot about how the car behaved when I was behind someone. It was really interesting to experience the Lamborghini under these circumstances. Then it started to rain, which made things trickier. I did my best and the guys helped me out the whole weekend. I am very, very happy and thankful.
Driver statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Norbert Siedler (AT)
Of course, we imagined the race to be different. We aimed to finish in the Top 7. At the start, a Lexus touched our Lamborghini, which caused Mik to spin. In terms of speed, we weren’t where we were supposed to be. Something that started to become very clear halfway through the stint. All in all, one could say that we did well at the start, struggled in the middle of the race and began to pick up speed again toward the end of the race. The short season now sadly comes to an end. Now we’re looking forward and looking for ways to improve, so that we can fight right on top next season.
Mikaël Grenier (CAN)
It feels strange that the season is finished already. Today was a bit difficult, but I think we did the best we could. For sure, the start was crazy because a few drivers took a shortcut at the chicane and we lost some positions because of that – which isn’t fair. Then there was also the contact with the Lexus. Our pace at the beginning and at the end of the race was okay. Compared to the others, we struggled a lot in the middle. For sure, we have some homework to do for next year. Thank you to everyone. For many reasons it was a difficult year and we will come back stronger next season.
Ricardo Feller (CH)
This season felt both too short and too long. It was a challenging one, but I believe we were able to make a lot of progress and continuously kept improving the Lamborghini’s performance. I’m very grateful to have been part of the Emil Frey Racing Team in 2020 and hope that there’s going to be a next year. I’m not as happy with the last race but I think with P8 and P11, we managed to get the best we could. It’s not a perfect ending, but it’s also not a bad one. The potential to fight at the top is clearly there for both cars and I hope to prove that next year.