Lords of the Ring: ADAC GT Masters double for Orange1 by GRT Grasser at the Nürburgring

Double celebrations for Orange1 by GRT Grasser in the ADAC GT Masters: A week after the first victory of the season at Zandvoort, the Austrian outfit went one better at the Nürburgring. On the fifth race weekend of the Super Sports Car League, their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs cruised to victory in both races. On Saturday, Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti in the number 63 car drove a flawless lights-to-flag win. In the second race, the opposition were unable to find a way past the number 82 car of Rolf Ineichen and Franck Perera.

Whereas it was triumph number two of the season for Engelhart and Bortolotti after their Saturday win at Zandvoort, Ineichen and Perera were celebrating a first ever victory in the ADAC GT Masters. The number 19 car gave further evidence of their level of performance in the Eifel with a win for Michele Beretta in the Junior classification on Sunday. This strongest weekend of the current campaign has propelled Orange1 by GRT Grasser to first place in the team championship. With just two more race weekends remaining, the team from Knittelfeld tops the table on 162 points.

Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P1 – Race 1: P1
Qualifying 2: P7 – Race 2: DNF

After making the breakthrough at Zandvoort, Bortolotti was once again on impressive form in Saturday’s qualifying. With a third pole position of the current season, he booked the perfect starting position for himself and Engelhart in Race 1. The Lamborghini works driver made good use of his pole to take control of the race from the start. After the driver change, Engelhart reasserted the lead against the opposition charging down on him and safely brought home the second victory of the season for the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.

Unfortunately, the triumph on Saturday was followed by a setback in the second race. Engelhart had qualified seventh on the grid, from where another top result was achievable. But coming out of Turn 4 on the opening lap, he strayed onto the astro turf which was still sodden from a heavy shower during the morning. Engelhart spun and was torpedoed by an opponent, whereupon he had no choice but to park the car. Despite scoring no points on Day 2, the duo retain their P4 spot in the drivers’ standings.

Mirko Bortolotti: “Saturday started well with pole position, and we duly converted it into the win. It was a tight situation on the first corner, and I have to compliment the whole field on the way they handled it. I then tried to pull away and managed to open up a gap. Christian did a great job after the driver change and drove the victory home. So, all in all, a great performance and a perfect race for us.”

Christian Engelhart: “When I took over the car, I knew that I had Maro Engel behind me. In those circumstances, you can’t relax – you just have to keep pushing. And that’s what I did until three laps before the finish when the team told me that I had a lead of 5.2 seconds. So I eased off slightly and avoided the kerbs in the chicane to go easy on the car.”

Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #82 (Franck Perera/Rolf Ineichen)
Qualifying 1: P20 – Race 1: P17
Qualifying 2: P1 – Race 2: P1

Third time lucky: After two podium finishes, Ineichen and Perera finally notched up their first victory of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters at the Nürburgring. Perera matched Bortolotti’s achievement on Saturday by placing the number 82 Lamborghini on Sunday’s pole for the second time this season. In the race, the Lamborghini works driver then put in a strong first stint, opening up a wide gap on the pursuing bunch. After the driver change, Ineichen successfully held the opposition – chief among them Le Mans winner and sports car champion Timo Bernhard – at bay.

The Swiss driver crossed the finish line with a comfortable five-second lead to win in style. After failing to score points in the first race, Sunday’s triumph propelled the duo in the 82 car further up the overall standings where they are now fifth, only three points behind team-mates Engelhart and Bortolotti.

Rolf Ineichen: “To an outsider, I think that it probably looked as if it was all very controlled and easy, but that certainly wasn’t the case from my perspective. It was very tricky. I pulled out of the box and hit the wet verge on the outside of Turn 1, which caused quite a big skid. All I tried to do after that was complete the race safely. Franck did a mega job. He put the car on pole this morning with a great lap. That laid the groundwork for our victory. I’m very happy with the result. It’s a huge success for Orange1 by GRT Grasser.”

Franck Perera: “With this win, we’ve shown that we are competitive in different conditions. First the pole position in the wet, then the victory in the dry. It was by no means easy. At the start, I obviously wanted to stay ahead without taking too many risks, and that’s what I managed to do. After that, I tried to pull out a gap while also going easy on the tyres for Rolf’s stint. He then did a great job and made sure of the victory.”

Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “That was one of our best weekends in the ADAC GT Masters. We can only be happy with that. Two pole positions, two fastest race laps and two wins – it’s not possible to get more out of a weekend. I’m so pleased with the performance of the Evo model. We already had a good feeling after the tests, because things had gone so well at that early stage. On twisty circuits, the balance is much more stable and the car responds much better at the corner entry. The performance of the Lamborghini is really great. The whole team and the drivers were very happy with it. With his victory in the number 82 car, Rolf has had one of his strongest races yet. Franck did a great job in his stint, after which Rolf really got into his rhythm and pulled out a performance as good as the biggest pros in this field. For someone who actually has a professional life away from the track and just turns up here at the weekend, that was amazing. I’m also very happy for Michele who won the Junior category. That really was a great result for all of our cars across the board. After winning on Saturday, the number 63 car unfortunately had a bad race on Sunday. Christian spun on the track and another car then drove into him. The other driver wasn’t to blame – it was just a chain reaction. There are so many cars on the starting grid, and situations like that are bound to happen.”

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