Two overall podium and two Silver Cup wins for Mikaël Grenier/Ricardo Feller duo in last of GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup event
EMIL FREY RACNIG HAS SHOWN THEY ARE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH IN THE LAST COUPLE OF MEETINGS AS THEY FINISHED THE SPRINT CUP CALENDAR ON A VERY HIGH NOTE
When Canadian Racers News last spoke to Mikaël Grenier while waiting for his flight to get him back to Europe and the Barcelona Sprint Cup event of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, we asked him what was to be expected for this last Sprint Cup round.
“Of course, we would like to finish the Sprint Cup season on a high note. I feel we had a good season with a bit of bad luck in Zandvoort. We will see where we are in terms of performance on Thursday but it would be great to maximise on available points, even get a podium. A win would be even better,” Grenier had said.
Well, it seems he had a strong vision of what was to come as Emil Frey Racing concluded the Sprint Cup Championship at Barcelona with two overall win(Race 1 and 2) for the #163 of Altoè/Costa (only to have Race 2 win taken away for pit lane infringements, ndlr) and for the #14 of Grenier/Feller a second place overall plus a win in Silver Cup in Race 1, a third place in Silver Cup in Race 2 and third place overall with a Silver Cup win in Race 3.
Ricardo Feller stepped in at the last minute to replace Norbert Siedler, Mikaël Grenier’s regular teammate, who had health issues. With this, the team opted to enter the #14 in the Silver class instead of the usual Pro class.
So, for Grenier and Feller, it was a great weekend cumulating two overall podiums, two Silver Cup wins and a third place finish in Silver Cup as well.
Things could have been even better for the #14 in Race 1 as Ricardo Feller had qualified on pole with a flying lap that was quickest by 0.367 second.
Both drivers did a perfect job behind the wheel as did the pit crew during the mandatory pitstop. Grenier even extending the lead during his stint for the second half of the race. While on his way to the checkered flag, with only the sister car behind him, it was then decided the #163 had a better chance at a late shot at the championship. Grenier let teammate Costa by to ensure the #163 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO would maximize on points.
At the time, it was the right thing to do.
Having to start from a little further back than expected for Race 2, Mikaël wanted to make his way to the front from the start of the race. Unfortunately, while making a move under braking, he came in contact with a competitor and was penalized for it albeit a decision that came in quite late in his stint. Nevertheless, Grenier kept the pace with the front runners all through his stint. Feller then took over and continued to maximise the Lamborghini’s performance to recuperate from the stop-go penalty to go from 17th and finished in eight place(third in Silver Cup). All the while, #163 was in the lead and did take the checkered flag but victory and championship hopes were short lived as the race director gave a 35 seconds penalty for a pit lane infringement as Giacomo Altoè was found still making adjusting to his belts on his out lap having just taken over from his teammate Costa.
Race 3 saw both Emil Frey start in the first three rows with Grenier in sixth. With a cleaner start, Grenier held his position and stayed in contact with the top runners until he handed the car over to Ricardo Feller.
Feller, who usually comes in as the additional driver for the Endurance Cup, responded with a great performance throughout the weekend especially the move he made in Race 3 against Ryuichiro Tomita (Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3) who was definitely slower than Feller at the time. The Barcelona track being difficult for passing, Feller made a move on Tomita who could not respond to the passing attempt. Immediately after, Feller drove away to finish in third place overall.
Honours for the Team and Driver Championships going to Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Dries Vanthoor/Charles Weerts respectively.
After the race, Mikaël Grenier commented on his weekend: “It was a great weekend. I think we were able to show that we were able to continuously improve the Lamborghini since the start of the season. The team is really doing an excellent job. We bagged two podium positions in three races and Silver Cup honors! I’m super stoked and would like to congratulate the whole team. Now it’s time to focus on Spa.”
For Ricardo Feller, the team showed a lot of potential and performance throughout the weekend: “It really was an excellent weekend. We showed a lot of potential. The pole position was a great achievement and the result of a strong performance. We could have won the first race, so I’m quite happy. We struggled a bit in the second race because we started a little bit further back and I got stuck behind a Mercedes. I was able to finish in P8 despite the drive through penalty. The last race was super fun as I engaged in a lot of duels with other drivers. The car was in great condition. Now I’m just looking forward to Spa.”
Team Principal, Lorenz Frey-Hilti, talks about a the teams’s performance: “The team showed a lot of fighting spirit this weekend. I’m immensely proud of the double-victory in the first race; the two honors in the Silver Cup; the pole positions; and finally, of placing third in the overall ranking of the Sprint Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe. The denied victory in the second race and with it, the setback in the race for the overall Sprint Cup title is of course extremely hard for us. Still, it’s paramount to stay clear-headed for the last two race weekends. We definitely had a shot at a title-bid for the sprint cup. Now we’re shifting focus to the 24h of Spa.”
The Silver Cup is now concluded as only two Endurance rounds remain on the calendar for GT world Challenge Europe powered by AWS competitors.
It starts with the gruelling Total 24 Hours of spa on October 22-25 and the season will end at Circuit Paul-Ricard on November 13-15 for a 1000km race.
Images: Emil Frey Racing