Emil Frey Racing sweeps Zandvoort ADAC GT Masters weekend with double win
- Wishofer and Lappalainen hand team maiden victory in race one
- #63 claims first win of the season in second race with Aitken and Costa Balboa
- Second podium of the year for Rougier and Perera in the #19
Zandvoort (Netherlands), June 26th 2022
Emil Frey Racing vaulted into ADAC GT Masters championship contention after claiming a historic double victory in the third round of the season at Zandvoort. Mick Wishofer and Konsta Lappalainen controlled the opening race on Saturday in the #14 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO, while Jack Aitken and Albert Costa Balboa led from start to finish in Sunday’s second encounter.
Meanwhile, Arthur Rougier and Franck Perera picked up yet more solid points in the #19 car, bringing home a strong eighth in race one while last-lap drama for the #91 Porsche handed them a well-deserved podium in the second race.
The victory for the #63 means that Costa Balboa and Aitken are now fourth in the GT Masters standings, just nine points off the lead heading into the next round of the season, while Rougier and Perera are sixth, just 13 points adrift.
The weekend began with two free practice sessions on Friday which took place in dry conditions, with all three Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs showing good pace. The #19, in particular, of Arthur Rougier and Franck Perera topped the opening session before finishing the afternoon running second quickest. The #63 of Albert Costa Balboa and Jack Aitken was also on the pace early on, posting the fifth fastest time after managing 12th in the morning. For the #14 however, it was an up-and-down day with Mick Wishofer and Konsta Lappalainen finishing the first session 11th fastest before an issue curtailed their afternoon action.
Saturday morning qualifying threw up a number of challenges for the EFR crews, as rain fell during the session. Wishofer and Lappalainen showcased the car’s potential around the Zandvoort circuit by claiming pole position for the opening race with a time of 1:34.039, some three-tenths quicker than second place. Unfortunately, the #63 of Costa Balboa was blocked on his best lap, which would have been good enough for the front-row and had to settle for 14th. Rougier was also on track to set a fast time in the #19 but was forced to abandon his effort after the circuit was declared wet, leaving him 10th on the grid.
The track was damp for the start of the race, with the majority of drivers, including all three EFR Lamborghinis, starting on slick tyres. After a delayed start following a crash on the formation lap for one of the Mercedes, Wishofer initially lost the lead to the #8 Mercedes before reclaiming the lead on the following lap.
He then extended his gap at the front to over eight seconds before coming into the pits to change over to Lappalainen with just under half an hour of the race left. The #19 car ran eighth early on before moving up to sixth after the pit-stop, but the #63 had a tough race following an early penalty lap for Costa Balboa, who was deemed to have been out of position at the rolling start.
Lappalainen maintained the lead Wishofer had built and withstood the pressure from the chasing #27 Audi behind to take the team’s first-ever ADAC GT Masters victory by just over one second.
Having lost two places at the pit-stop, the #19 finished eighth with Perera taking over from Rougier, while Aitken made progress late in the race to come home 12th after completing a sensational overtake on the Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello.
All three cars continued their promising performances on Sunday morning as Jack Aitken stormed to his maiden GT Masters pole position in the #63. The British driver set a best time of 1:33.471 to claim the top spot by just four-hundredths of a second. Perera put the #19 car third quickest, while race one winner Lappalainen qualified 11th.
Aitken made a strong start from pole position and led into the first corner and built a steady margin over the chasing Audi of Mattia Drudi during his stint at the wheel. With tyre conservation a key factor in the race, Aitken maintained his slender gap but pulled out to around three seconds before his mandatory pit-stop, swapping with Costa Balboa towards the end of the 10-minute window.
Costa Balboa cycled back to the lead once the pit window closed and built a gap of over three seconds during his stint, heading into the closing stages. The Audi reduced that margin in the final minutes but the #63 had plenty of pace still left to claim the win.
Having dropped to fourth at the start, the #19 remained just off the podium after the pit window with Rougier at the wheel, but the French duo were handed an unexpected podium on the final corner of the race, as the Porsche of Christian Engelhart slowed. Meanwhile, the #14 suffered a difficult race and was forced to retire after Wishofer reported a tire puncture ond the left rear of his car late in the race.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal
“With two pole positions and two wins, we had a very successful weekend and the team worked flawlessly. Only at the start of the first race, the #63 left the start position too early and therefore received a penalty lap. The young drivers of the #14 were able to take victory straight on the first day, which was of course great. For both races, the focus laid on tyre management so that they lasted until the end. Especially towards the end of the race, the tyres caused some difficulties for many competitors. It was very important to take those points home. Zandvoort suits our cars well and in addition, we found the right setup. It was very tight again, because the first eight cars were all within three tenths. We are very happy with the two victories and a total of three podium finishes.”
Jürg Flach, Technical Director
“It has been a very strong weekend with a great performance from the whole team. To have a podium for every car is exceptional and I’m very happy for the whole team. It was especially well deserved after the disappointing end to the race in Le Castellet.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Mick Wishofer (AUT)
“The victory in the first race was a mega day for us, especially from pole position. It was a bit trick because of the conditions, with rain and dry in qualifying, it was a bit of a gamble. But we managed it well. And in the race, it was also tricky because it was raining before the start, so we weren’t sure what tyres to start with. We again took a gamble to start on slicks and this was the right decision. I knew I could get the position back on the Mercedes and then Konsta did a mega job to bring the car home in his stint.”
Konsta Lappalainen (FIN)
“Race 2 was definitely more challenging than yesterday, but we made it through. We struggled a bit with the pace given the handicap from the race one win, and in the end the tyre blew so sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Race 1 was amazing; Mick made a gap in his stint, and I just had to bring it home.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19
Arthur Rougier (FR)
“Really happy with the podium today, I have to say this time we had a bit of luck but we will take it, because we missed a lot this year. It showed the pace we and all the team had this weekend and we’re really happy with the result.”
Franck Perera (FR)
“It was a pretty perfect weekend for everyone in the team, we got a bit lucky at the end of the race but we’re happy with the result. For sure, I expected a bit more for us, but anyway we collected good points for the championship, it’s very open and this is the positive. Anything can happen in ADAC, we need to keep working for the next round.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Jack Aitken (GB)
“It was a mega weekend for the whole team; we had two poles and two wins from the two days and I think everyone really deserves this because we lost a really good team result in Paul Ricard, and we were the strongest team all weekend with the strongest car and we capitalised. Now, we’re back in the championship fight and we’re looking to rest of the season now.”
Albert Costa Balboa (ES)
“I am very, very happy with this victory, I think we deserved it so much. Thanks first of all go to Jack who did an amazing lap in qualifying and in the first stint. It made my life a lot easier for the second stint and I have no words to describe my happiness. I have been struggling with many things, inside and outside of the car in the last year, and finally it looks like we found the right way, the team is doing an amazing job and we need to get on this path.”