- Only Lamborghini team at the first sprint race of the season
- Solid positions in the Top 10
- For #14, a technical issue led to forced retirement in the second race
Misano (Italy), August 9th 2020
A fully packed sprint race weekend awaited the Emil Frey Racing Team in Misano. The first test session took place on Thursday afternoon, followed by two free practices on Friday. The first two qualifyings and the first sprint race were held on Saturday. Last but not least, the third and last qualifying as well as race 2 and 3 took place on Sunday. The team from Safenwil was the only Lamborghini Squadra Corse team that took on the fight alongside 20+ competitors with other brands. In the first race, Emil Frey Racing snatched P7 (#163) and P10 (#14), in the second P5 with #163, and in the third and last race they bagged P8 (#163) and P7 (#14).
For Emil Frey Racing, the combination of Lamborghinis, Pirelli tires and the racetrack in Misano, was a premiere. The circuit, known as the “Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli”, comes with some challenges. Which is especially true for corners T6 and T8, which are to be navigated at a constantly fast pace. As challenging as the corners may be, they’re just as important. The two infamous corners offer the almost only opportunities to overtake. These aspects posed a great challenge for the two Lamborghinis and the EFR team, which is why the focus for the two car setups was mostly placed on the two aforementioned corners. The goal was to constantly keep a fast pace despite rising track temperatures, which have considerable impact on tire pressure.
Free Practice / Pre-Qualifying
The planned setup didn’t work from the get-go, as initially hoped for. To quickly address this, the team decided to start with two different setups for the two Lamborghinis in the pre-qualifying. The whole field raced within a second, and in Misano overtaking is generally very difficult. Hence, in the trainings they worked tirelessly on the qualifying setups.
Canadian Mikael Grenier went for it and started with #14, as did his colleague Giacomo Altoè with #163. Grenier raced to sixth place and positioned himself just one place ahead of his colleague Altoè. But alas, luck wasn’t on Grenier’s side for much longer. The Canadian’s lap time was cancelled due to an incident involving the track limits at T16, which made him lose valuable positions and fall back to P11. However, Giacomo Altoè was able to safely place himself in sixth place.
The beginning of the second qualifying proved difficult for the two Lamborghinis. But adrenalin started to kick in for Albert Costa in the last two minutes: The Spaniard went full speed and even recorded the fastest lap in sector 1 while placing fourth. Norbert Siedler as well found his rhythm and placed tenth.
The first race didn’t go as smoothly. Giacomo Altoè’s start wasn’t without struggles. In the midst of a scramble with competitors, he got onto the dirt track and fell back to P9. Meanwhile, Mikael Grenier was able to gain one position. #163 was the first to arrive at the pitstop. Unfortunately, some valuable time was lost during the pitstop, owing to the waiting time of the cars that were closing in on the fast lane. The turnaround came with the Full-Course-Yellow Phase, which was introduced after a crash involving two Audis. EFR was able to take advantage of the corresponding penalties and raced to the finish line as seventh with #163 and tenth with #14.
In the third qualifying it was once again the duo Grenier/Altoè behind the wheels. Two good laps secured two Top Ten placements. After the scheduled pitstop, the two were able to consistently perform and finished at P5 with #163 and P6 with #14.
The Spaniard Albert Costa impressed with a solid performance. It was obvious that he felt at home in his Lamborghini. He was able to race straight to third place within the first ten minutes and didn’t shy away from showing the driver in second place his competitive side. After the pitstop and after switching to Giacomo Altoè, the crew of #163 secured P5. A minor error by Altoè was immediately translated into an advantage by the Audi that was trailing closely behind him. Nevertheless, Altoè managed to finish the second race in fifth place.
Norbert Siedler, who was manning the sister car with #14, was forced – only about half an hour into the race – to retire the second race prematurely because of a technical issue. No doubt a bitter setback for crew #14. But the team was able to fix the issue in time for the third and last race.
The third and last one-hour race of the sprint race weekend lay ahead still. The two Lamborghinis from EFR started at P5 for #163, with sister car #14 right behind, at P6.
The young Italian Giacomo Altoè made an error by driving over the curbs, making him lose three valuable positions from P6 to P9. Mikael Grenier delivered a solid lap time which positioned him at P5. The pitstops of the two Lamborghinis caused Norbert Siedler with #14 to lose some positions and land on P8, while Albert Costa with #163 fell back on P10. #163 didn’t kick into gear while driving away and lost 6 whole seconds. An accident that involved two other cars and happened in the last 10 minutes of the race, unfolded to EFR’s advantage and landed them on P7 for #14 and P8 for #163.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti (Team Principal)
The race weekend has once again shown that each circuit comes with its specific set of hurdles, and that a circuit-specific setup is of utmost importance. Overall, I’m happy with our performance. However, having to retire #14 in the second race was of course very frustrating. Luckily, we were able to fix the defect right away and were able to enter the third and last race with two fully functioning Lamborghinis. We will take home important lessons and insights for the next race at Nürburgring where we will once again face an endurance race.
Jürg Flach (Technical Director)
I have to admit that the conditions at this race weekend were very unique and somewhat challenging. To find the right setup turned out to be rather difficult. It was a bit of a struggle for the two Lamborghinis to get to the leaders of the pack, despite good performances. #14 had difficulties with oversteering while #163 was struggling with the brakes. It was a weekend fully packed with numerous changes to the cars. The mechanics, engineers and the whole team worked hard and delivered a good performance. We will take a lot of new experiences and learnings from this which we will put into good use for the next race at Nürburgring.
Driver Statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #163
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
Indeed, it was a challenging weekend for us, but we all did our best. The whole team, drivers included, had a ton of work to do on the first day, working on the car. But as I said, we gave our very best and we were able to make it to the Top 10. To make it to the podium is of course still our goal – and we will fight for it. I am very proud of the whole team and I’m looking forward to first race at Nürburgring after the summer break. We will continue to fight. This is just the beginning and the best is yet to come.
Giacomo Altoè (IT)
This weekend was a tough nut to crack! We worked tirelessly on the setup of the Lamborghini and on constantly improving it. But the effort was well worth it, and we made an important step forward. In the qualifying as well as the race itself, we were able to achieve great results and I am looking forward to the next race at Nürburgring.
Driver Statements Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Norbert Siedler (AT)
It definitely wasn’t an easy sprint race. But the whole team did a great job and the car improved with each lap. We unfortunately had to contend with a technical problem in the second race and had to stop the car at the beginning of that race! But that just means there is room for improvement. I want to thank the whole team for this great job and I’m already looking forward to Nürburgring, where I was lucky enough to celebrate my first race with Emil Frey Racing in 2016!
Mikaël Grenier (CAN)
It was a tough weekend for us. But we learned a lot and were able to secure some points in the first and third round. The team did a great job in making sure the car was back up to speed after the mechanical issue in the second round. Now we return home and get ourselves into fight mode for the next race.