- Double victory on Sunday after difficult rain race on Saturday
- Local hero Costa Balboa with impressive Pole Time on Sunday
- Lead in both teams and drivers’ championship confirmed
Barcelona (Spain), 22nd September 2019:
Emil Frey Racing has secured its third double victory of the year in Barcelona (Spain). Following a difficult wet race on Saturday with the results four and 11, the Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO kept the field of the International GT Open on their toes and achieved a masterly double victory. After this strong performance, the Swiss are now heading to the season finale at Monza with a close gap ahead in both the teams and drivers’ championship tables.
Race 1 I Saturday, 21st September 2019 – 70 minutes:
The 24 participants were greeted by uncharacteristic weather chaos on Saturday. After the Series had tried out a new qualifying format at the last round at Silverstone, the Organization went back to its original system at Barcelona: 30 minutes and one driver per car. The conditions were not ideal for the Emil Frey Racing pilots Norbert Siedler and Giacomo Altoè with heavy rain and 19°C. However, both drivers showed a good performance in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO and secured second on the grid (number 14) and fourth place (number 63).
The GT Open field started into the 70-minute race under a cloudy sky and a still damp track. But the start went everything but planned. Siedler was forced into a spin by an Aston Martin in the very first corner. But the Austrian was able to continue driving and started his charge through the field from P14. Meanwhile, Altoè had a lucky escape from the chaos in the first corner and managed to take the lead of the race.
One lap later, Siedler already found himself in 10th place. Following a short Safety Car, Altoè was under pressure by the Mercedes of Fabian Schiller and had to give up the lead of the race shortly after. Siedler was putting in one overtaking move after another and was already in P6 on the tenth lap. The track was getting drier and drier, however, it seemed it was not dry enough for Slick tires yet. The big question during the pitstop window was the right tire choice for the remaining laps and whether to choose Slicks or not. The team decided to put wet tires on the number 63 whilst the number 14 was fitted with slicks. As no more rain occurred and after a few laps it was apparent that the correct choice of tires would have been the Slicks.
Altoè pitted on lap 15 and the local hero Albert Costa Balboa took over the number 63 after the obligatory 30 seconds extra time, putting in the fastest first sector straight away. Siedler came into the pits with three minutes remaining of the pitstop window and handed the number 14 over to Mikael Grenier.
After the pitstops, the number 14 was running in P8 and the number 63 in P5. However, the team took an unfortunate decision in terms of tire choice and so Albert Costa Balboa was not able to keep position in the #63 Lamborghini, dropping down all the way to P11. The Canadian Mikael Grenier, meanwhile, was making good progress, but an over-excited Chaves in the McLaren behind him run hard into the chicane and touched Grenier, who in due course lost positions. By the time of the chequered flag, Grenier improved again and was waved through in the fourth position.
Despite the disappointing race, Costa Balboa and Altoè remained leaders in the drivers’ championship whilst Emil Frey Racing was now on even points with Teo Martín Motorsport.
Race 2 I Sunday, 22nd September 2019 – 60 minutes:
Following the rainy Saturday, the sun was beaming again over the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday. And Emil Frey Racing experienced a shining moment in qualifying for the second race. The Spaniard Albert Costa Balboa demonstrated in true fashion the sheer performance of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO, setting one fastest lap after the next and securing Pole Position on his home track. Team-mate Mikael Grenier was also putting in a good job and set the 4th fastest time in the number 14.
Costa Balboa remained in the lead at the start whilst team-mate Grenier escaped the sandwich of Emil Frey Racing´s strongest competitor, Teo Martín Motorsport, taking the third position whilst going into the first corner. Costa Balboa controlled the race from the very first lap and extended his lead to up to five seconds. Grenier was also running safely in third and fought-off any attacks by the #16 McLaren.
The Canadian was the first Emil Frey Lamborghini to pit on lap 14 with Costa Balboa following one lap later. Just at the moment when Giacomo Altoè exited the pitlane, Siedler stormed down the start-finishing-straight in the sister car. The Austrian stayed behind the championship-leading-car, however, the tires on the number 14 were up to temperatures and Altoè let his team-mate pass eventually to take the lead of the race.
Siedler kept the lead and took race victory for the number 14. Altoè crossed the finishing line in second place and completed the third double victory for the Swiss Lamborghini Team of the season.
The great season final is taking place in Monza (Italy) on 12th and 13th October 2019.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing
“Our great team work has shown once again this weekend. After the wrong tyre choice for the number 63 on Saturday we weren´t put down and attacked fully again on Sunday, showing the great performance of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. I am very pleased to celebrate another double victory. Our strength was already visible during qualifying on Sunday and both Albert Costa Balboa and Mikael Grenier secured great grid positions, forming the basis for a successful race. Despite leading the championship table ahead of the season final, everything can still happen.”
Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Racing
“We tried to have a good basis for Sunday´s race with the results on Saturday, however, we should have changed on slicks on the number 63 which we wrongly didn´t do. Today, we kept the number 14 in the front to ensure the better handicap for Monza as well as the option for a better position in the team championship.”
Driver Quotes Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Norbert Siedler (AUT)
“I had to give my everything during my stint as Giacomo was pushing very hard. I think I pushed too hard at the beginning because I lost the optimum of the tires. But the short Safety Car helped me and afterward it was better. Thank you to the team who did a fantastic job this weekend.”
Mikael Grenier (CAN)
“My stint on Sunday was ok, I was stuck behind the number 17 as their speed on the straights was too good and there was no chance to overtake. But on the other side, we knew we had less handicap than the others, so we kept calm. Norbert completed the job and we are really happy to be back up on the first step, after having had a string of bad luck lately. It feels good to be back.”
Driver Quotes Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“It is just amazing to have Pole Position on my home track. It was a very black day for us yesterday, we didn´t manage the race well, chose the wrong tires and didn´t take a risk. But we had one set of fresh tires for qualifying this way. We answered on Sunday and started into the race with a little handicap. It was a tough race, but the team did an amazing job and we are all very happy to have another double victory, this time in front of my home crowd and my family.”
Giacomo Altoè (ITA)
“It was a perfect team result! Double victory again is an amazing result, congratulations to our sister car for the win! Now, we are heading to Monza leading the championship and we will do the last effort for the final win!”