Mikaël Grenier and Norbert Siedler win Open GT Race 2 at Hockenheimring
EMIL FREY RACING 1-2 FINISH; LEADS TEAM AND DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIPS
Emil Frey Racing arrived at Hockenheimring having completed testing two weeks prior although their testing program was hampered by bad weather.
So they knew they had work to do as Jürg Flach, Technical Director Emil Frey Racing pointed out: “It was not that easy to find the right Set-up for the dry and warm conditions, after having tested her in the rain before. The grip level and track characteristics here at Hockenheim are not comparable to the other tracks where we have driven on this year. We managed to change a lot on Friday ranging from the tyre pressure to the damper settings. We were not quite happy on Saturday, we exceeded our expectations in qualifying but were lacking pace in the race. Qualifying on Sunday showed that once we can push for one clear lap we are very fast.”
Qualifying Saturday was not in the best conditions as the session was interrupted with a red flag. Mikaël Grenier was appointed the task of qualifying the no. 14 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO and managed a seventh place. The sister car just behind in eight.
During Race 1, Grenier and teammate Siedler had 15 seconds added to their pit stop having won the last race at Paul Ricard and with a field very close in lap times they rejoined the race in 13th. Once everyone completed their stop, Siedler brought the car in 7th at the checkered flag.
Sunday has been another story with Austrian Norbert Siedler, Mikaël’s teammate, qualifying the car on pole with the sister car next in second place.
Siedler drove away at the start and maintained a 2.5 second lead over the no. 63 Emil Frey Racing of Altoé/Balboa. Mikaël Grenier took over with just over 30 minutes left of the 60-minutes race and with a 5 second lead. As the race drew to a close, Balboa who had regained second place, came within a second to Grenier. On a last attempt to get closer and pass Grenier on the penultimate lap, Balboa outbraked himself at corner 8. At the checkered flag, it was 1-2 finish for Emil Frey Racing with Grenier finishing ahead of Balboa and Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin GT3 AMR of Oliver Wilkinson in third.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing, summarizes the day: “We were able to improve the qualifying´s performance on Sunday. Of course, we are starting to understand the Lamborghini better lap-by-lap. Once we had a clear road ahead, we were very strong, but once we were stuck in traffic, McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes were far quicker than us. In Sunday´s qualifying, we had a bit of luck with our double pole since two competitors didn´t or couldn´t finish their fast laps, therefore realistically speaking we would have ended up in third and fourth place. All-in-all, the result was very good and shows we are on the right way. We still had to fight very hard in the race on Saturday and were constantly running on the limit. Our pace in Sunday´s race was better and we controlled the race. It was fantastic to have secured a double victory. It was a strong team and drivers achievement.”
Mikaël Grenier had mixed feeling about Saturday but then Sunday made up fo it. “I think, we could have been better in qualifying on Saturday, but the red flag happened at a bad time for our tyre management. The Pole Position on Sunday was great. We had to work on our race pace this weekend. Despite the 15-seconds time penalty, we had a decent race on Saturday and were only 12 seconds behind the second place. It is fantastic that I have won a race here at my very-first race weekend at the Hockenheimring. It has been a great team result with P1 and P2.”
Norbert Siedler was happy to grab pole but highlights the fact the BOP is not to the team’s advantage: “I am very happy to have secured the first Pole Position for Emil Frey Racing with the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. The performance in qualifying has improved a lot as we have put in a lot of emphasis into the Set-up work and different changes. But we had no chance against our competitors on the straights with the current Balance of Performance. Overtaking was extremely difficult and I was only able to overtake the Aston Martin, for example, as I exited the hairpin better. I would not have expected to be able to pull away on Sunday. I had a good start and a gap early on, which I managed to keep. Big thank you to the whole team for a great job throughout the entire weekend.”
With this result, Emil Frey Racing occupies the top spot for the team championship and also the drivers championship with the pair Altoès/Balboa in first. Grenier/Siedler are only 7 points behind in second.
Next event is at Spa-Francorchamps on June 8-9.
Image: Emil Frey Racing