International GT Open Spa: Another win for Mikaël Grenier and Norbert Siedler
NOW SITTING SECOND IN THE STANDINGS AFTER THREE MEETINGS(6 RACES), ONE POINT FROM THE LEAD.
A season that is off to a great start for Canadian Mikaël Grenier, from Stoneham(QC), and teammate Norbert Siedler(AUT) with a win in every meetings.
A good qualifying result was imperative due to the 15-seconds penalty both cars were facing following the successes from Hockenheim. But the drivers Mikael Grenier and Giacomo Altoé did not disappoint and placed the Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini in third (#14) and fifth (#63) place.
Heavy rain shower in the first part of the track affected the start of race 1 as it had to be started under the Safety Car. Mikaël helps on to his position and pitted on lap 12 only 2.4 seconds behind the leader. As Siedler rejoined the track, having had to wait an extra 15 seconds due to the race win at the prior event and everyone done with their pitstops, he was classified in fifth place about 8.5 seconds behind the leader.
Siedler then started clocking some good lap times that were almost a second quicker than opponents. The Number 14 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO took the lead from the #10 SPS Automotive Performance of Ramos on lap 22. With just about four minutes to go, heavy rain started falling once more on the circuit and the officials elected to bring out the safety car with 90 seconds to go in the race. At that point, Grenier/Siedler had an 11.6 seconds lead.
The second qualifying session to determine race 2 starting grid was stopped for over one hour following a heavy accident and was only started for ten minutes in due course. Both Emil Frey drivers still delivered a good performance: Albert Costa Balboa placed the #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO in P2 on the grid, closely followed by team-mate Norbert Siedler in the number 14, who qualified in third place.
Both Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini had a good start into the 60-minute race in dry conditions, only Siedler lost one position against the #16 McLaren. With 15 minutes into the race, the Safety Car was deployed after a crash by the #5 Mercedes in Le Combes.
All advantages and time gained by the number 14 were ruined. Costa Balboa continued to make up ground to the leading #20 Mercedes of Onslow-Cole. Siedler was first to put on lap 10 and following the obligatory tyre and driver change as well as the additional 30 seconds penalty time, Mikaël Grenier re-joined in 19thposition.
Grenier had a good run through the field in the last remaining Emil Frey Racer and finished the race in a solid ninth place.
Mikaël Grenier: “We had a very good Saturday. Already in qualifying we had a great pace and were pleased with the result. The start into the race was difficult as we were running on slicks and it was still wet whilst also the temperature of the tyres was not quite there yet. The car was running with a good pace throughout the entire weekend and we were consistently competitive. Even on Sunday, we came home in ninth place despite the 30 seconds penalty time.”
Norbert Siedler: “I pushed a lot in the race and it was exciting, because I could overtake many cars. It was relaxing in the last two laps behind the Safety Car. Big thanks to the whole team, the Lamborghini was fantastic the whole weekend. Also thank you to Mik, who did a great job in Saturday´s qualifying.”
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing: “One again Spa has shown all its facets. Our weather radar was pretty accurate so we were able to plan our slicks well. We adjusted our strategy according to our handicap in the first race and were right there with our performance where we hoped we would be. Thanks to a great pace we were able to win the race on Saturday and brought the #63 home in fourth place, since it already had two handicaps and the additional time would have been too long for Sunday´s race. We had a bitter setback on Sunday. The speed was great and then we had to retire the #63 whilst on the way to yet another great result due to brake issues. It is very disappointing to have experienced this today as we have not grabbed the chance to take more points towards the championship.”
After the two races from Spa-Francorchamps, the drivers have lost the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, however, are remaining in a close fight with second place (Siedler/Grenier) and third place with only one respectively three points behind.
The next two races are taking place at the Red Bull Ring in Zeltweg (Austria) on 13thand 14thJuly 2019.
Images: Emil Frey Racing