Orange1 by GRT Grasser threw down the gauntlet last weekend at Zandvoort to mark the end of the ADAC GT Masters’ summer break. The outfit’s three Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs had their strongest weekend of the season to date in Races 7 and 8 of the Super Sports Car League. Driven by Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart, car #63 was the star attraction on Saturday with pole position, victory and fastest lap. Third place for Michele Beretta and Marco Mapelli in the sister car, carrying the number 19, made a perfect end to the first race for the outfit from Knittelfeld in Austria.
After this good initial showing by their team-mates, Franck Perera and Rolf Ineichen struck on Sunday with the #82 Lamborghini. They followed a strong tenth place in the first race with a P4 in Race 2, giving the outfit their second points hat-trick of the weekend. Their fellow team members rounded off the races in the Netherlands with positions six and seven in the second race. Thanks to the team’s strong showing, Orange1 by GRT Grasser move into third place in the ADAC GT Masters team standings and are back in the title fight with a five-point deficit on the leaders.
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P1 – Race 1: P1
Qualifying 2: P4 – Race 2: P6
Bortolotti laid the basis for the triumph in the dunes on Saturday morning with his second pole position of the season. The Lamborghini works driver saw off competition in qualifying from the Audi which currently heads the championship standings. He confidently asserted his lead in the race right from the start. However, the gap he had built up on the cars behind quickly evaporated when the safety car came out. Engelhart kept a cool head after the driver handover despite massive pressure from the competition and went on to secure the duo’s first victory in this year’s ADAC GT Masters.
Engelhart qualified in a good starting position once again for the second race with grid slot four. However, the German lost two positions in the jockeying for position at the start. Despite having the pace needed to take another win, he and Bortolotti were unable to reclaim the places lost on Zandvoort’s narrow circuit set in the dunes. However, a guest entrant ahead of them was not eligible to score in the standings, and so, they moved up into P5 and secured more valuable points. Bortolotti and Engelhart are now in sixth place in the drivers’ championship thanks to their 36 points from Zandvoort.
Mirko Bortolotti: “That was the perfect way to start the second half of the season with a win. It was vital to ensure that we secure a good qualifying result as overtaking is difficult at Zandvoort. Christian had to work hard, but he and the team did an incredible job. Unfortunately, he lost two places in the first turn on Sunday. I pushed hard after the driver handover. I tried everything but couldn’t get past even though I was faster than the cars in front.”
Christian Engelhart: “I had a lot of pressure in the first race. I enjoyed the scrap for the win with Klaus Bachler and am really happy that it worked out, especially after the tough start to the season. Mirko and I make a great team and we’ve now hit back with a win. The extra 30 kilos of success ballast made a big difference on Sunday, especially on the straights. Added to which, unfortunately, I was pushed off track in the first two corners at the start. At any rate, we can be well satisfied with the points for P5.”
Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #82 (Franck Perera/Rolf Ineichen)
Qualifying 1: P9 – Race 1: P10
Qualifying 2: P5 – Race 2: P4
Lamborghini works driver Franck Perera and team-mate Rolf Ineichen took podiums at Oschersleben and Autodrom Most but just missed out on more silver with P4 on Sunday. They produced a faultless performance on both days and theirs was the best-placed Lamborghini in the second race. Having finished tenth in the first race, the driver pairing with start number 82 increased their points tally by 19 and are now in seventh place in the standings directly behind the sister car of Bortolotti and Engelhart.
Franck Perera: “It was a good weekend. We scored points twice. I first came to Zandvoort 14 years ago. The last time I was here was in 2005 in Formula 3. It wasn’t easy to find your rhythm in the changeable conditions. I was very pleased with my finish in the Top Five in qualifying. I got a good start to the race and then tried to maintain the connection with the front-runners. Rolf did a fantastic job and secured fourth place.”
Team Principal, Gottfried Grasser: “Zandvoort has definitely been the highlight of our season so far in the ADAC GT Masters. It was a terrific result for the team, and I’m highly satisfied. It was a strong performance with our double podium on Saturday and all three cars in a row on Sunday. Zandvoort is one of the racetracks, on which qualifying really does mean everything. If you can prepare well in the quali, then you can reap the rewards in the race. We made a great job of doing just that. All three cars were close together in both races. As Team Principal, it’s a terrific sight to behold. This weekend gave us an enormous boost as regards the championship. Of course, there was a bit of luck involved this weekend. You always need luck on your side. Some of the front-runners came away empty-handed but we gained a lot of points. Still now, we’ve reached the stage where we can say we’ve seen some improvement with every race, which is why I’m pleased that there’s only five days or so before the Nürburgring, because I don’t really like the breaks in between races. However, I expect things there will be a fair bit tougher once more. The GP track suits us, but not the sprint layout. However, I think we’ll do better than in recent years in view of current trends. This could be another weekend where we score a good haul of points, and everyone who is out in front in the overall standings will have to start thinking about the championship.”