Emil Frey Racing claims trio of top 10 finishes in mixed Nürburgring weekend
- #14 misses out on Junior Trophy podium in second race
- Costa Balboa and Aitken take impressive P7 in race one with maximum ballast
- All-French crew of Perera and Rougier bounce back with strong Sunday performance
Nürburgring (Germany), August 07th, 2022
Emil Frey Racing recorded three top 10 results across what proved to be an up-and-down fourth round of the ADAC GT Masters championship at the Nürburgring. The #63 Lamborghini Huracán of Jack Aitken and Albert Costa Balboa finished seventh in the opening one-hour race on Saturday while the #14 of Mick Wishofer and Konsta Lappalainen achieved the best finish of the weekend with sixth in race two.
For the #19 crew of Arthur Rougier and Franck Perera, it was most definitely a weekend of mixed emotions, with eighth in race two a deserved result following a difficult first encounter.
Aitken and Costa Balboa remain the highest placed Lamborghini drivers in the standings, 39 points adrift of the top in seventh place, with six races left in the 2022 season.
Friday’s practice sessions featured a mix of typical Nürburgring weather. Cloudy and wet conditions greeted the drivers in the morning, while the afternoon session was largely dry throughout before being red flagged late on due to heavy fog in the Eifel region. For all three Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis, it was a productive day, particularly in FP2 as the #63 of Aitken and Costa Balboa finished as the fastest car of all. In the separate Junior Trophy session, the #14 of Wishofer and Lappalainen was also the quickest car.
With 20kg of additional weight in the car courtesy of its race two victory last time out at Zandvoort, the #63 needed to qualify well on Saturday morning and it did with Aitken at the wheel in sixth place. Wishofer took the #14 to eighth on the grid, despite a spectacular spin towards the end of the session on the exit of Turn 6. Meanwhile, the #19 in the hands of Perera qualified 11th on the grid.
At the start, all three Huracáns were in the mix immediately. Aitken dropped one position to seventh, while Wishofer slipped to 13th, two places behind Perera. Before long, Aitken became embroiled in a thrilling battle with the #71 Lamborghini and, despite a much heavier car, drove around the outside of his rival at the Veedol chicane twice to maintain his position until the pit window where he handed over to Costa Balboa. Two safety car periods followed in quick succession; the first came for debris on track after Aitken and the #71 of Maxi Paul made contact in their initial battle, while the second was due to more contact further down the field at the restart.
Once action resumed, the #63 and the #14 pitted on the same lap, with Wishofer handing over to Lappalainen – who brilliantly held off the reigning drivers champion Riccardo Feller to finish 11th at the end. The #63 was seventh, just under two seconds behind fourth place. For the #19, it was a more challenging race, as Rougier and Perera could only manage 15th.
Track conditions were perfect for the second qualifying session and the competitiveness of the GT Masters field was once again on display as all 21 cars were split by just one second. For the #63, it was another strong showing as Costa Balboa set the seventh quickest time, just ahead of the #14 of Lappalainen. However, the struggles continued for the #19 car, as Rougier could only qualify 18th. Due to penalties for cars in front, the #63 was promoted to fifth on the grid, while the #14 moved up to sixth.
Unfortunately, the race didn’t start well for the #63 as Costa Balboa was tipped into a spin by the #8 Mercedes of Luca Stolz at Turn 3, dropping to the back of the field. Such was the chaotic nature of the opening lap, with multiple cars running wide, the #19 of Rougier leapt up from 18th on the grid to sixth by the start of lap two. Lappalainen dropped two places to eighth but maintained strong pace over the opening stint before handing over to Wishofer at the end of the 10-minute pit window.
Rougier did likewise with Perera, and the #19 came out of the pit cycle in seventh place, rejoining just ahead of the #14. The pair of Huracáns ran side-by-side for several corners with the Frenchman coming out on top initially. Wishofer, with more pace in the second stint, eventually got ahead of Perera for seventh before pulling off a superb divebomb overtake on the #27 Audi at Turn 7; a crucial move as it secured fourth place in the Junior Trophy class.
Wishofer closed onto the back of the #90 Mercedes in the closing laps and nearly made it into the top five at Turn 1 on the final lap, but the Austrian had to settled for sixth. Perera brought the #19 home for more valuable points in eighth while Aitken had to make do with 16th in the #63.
Jürg Flach, Technical Director
“We go back home with mixed feelings from this weekend. The potential was definitely there across the team but unfortunately there are only six points difference to the second place in the Teams’ standings, so we lost something to them this weekend. But that will only give is more motivation to bounce back strong at the Lausitzring, to try and restore our lead. I was especially happy with the performance of the #14 car in race two, both drivers showed strong pace. Now, we look forward to the Lausitzring in two weeks, another track we will visit for the first time.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Mick Wishofer (AUT)
“Konsta did the start of race two and it was a bit chaotic for everyone, we lost two positions. But after that, the pace was mega and the team from Lamborghini did a mega job as well. Konsta drove well and then in the pit-stop we did an even better job, to come out with 0.0s on the minimum time. We lost one place in the procedure but I managed to get some places back with some good fights. I tried really hard to get past the Mercedes for the Teams’ championship but sadly it wasn’t enough. But again, good points for both championships and thanks to the team and Lamborghini.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19
Arthur Rougier (FRA)
“Overall, it was a pretty tough weekend for us, we missed speed since the start I would say. Qualifying for both me and Franck was really tough too, we lacked performance and we need to analyse what went wrong, for next time and come back stronger, because we are not at the level we want to be at for the moment. I’m happy with my start in race two, the pace was better today but we still have a lot of work to do for the next race weekend.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Jack Aitken (UK)
“It’s a bit of a disappointing end to the weekend, but we managed to have a good race on Saturday, especially with 20kg of ballast in the car. But, now with the bad luck we had at the start of race two, with Albert being spun around which wasn’t his fault, we had no chance of scoring points today. We also struggled a bit for pace in general anyway, but we can have a look at things in the next few days and prepare for the next round at the Lausitzring.”