40 GT3 CARS ON THE STARTING GRID FOR THE LAST MEETING OF THE 2020 SEASON WITH TOP 15 CARS IN QUALIFYING WITHIN A SECOND
Another series concluded its 2020 season this weekend with Circuit Paul-Ricard hosting a 6-hour race to decide the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Championship.
#14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO of Canadian Mikaël Grenier and teammates Norbert Siedler/Ricardo Feller qualified with an average time good enough for 12th place for the start of the race.
Grenier was the one who started the race and had his hands full from the green flag as there was quite a bit of a shuffle in the first corners. With sometimes three and even four cares wide, there was missing real estate to fit all of them between the white line of the track with many competitors opting to shortcut the track to the disadvantage of Grenier. Official reviewed the start and chose not to penalize anyone for their behaviour at the start amidst the chaos.
Grenier occupied 15th place at first and did gain a couple of places along the first 30 minutes of his stint. While the #163 sister car of Giacomo Altoe/Mikkel Mac/Albert Costa was leading the race, unfortunately, a very late move into corner 1 from Lexus driver Thomas Neubauer forced Grenier into a spin. This relegated Grenier into 15th place at the time. Grenier came in for a pit stop from 15th place and the team had elected to keep Grenier in the car for a second stint. As everyone cycled through their fuelling and tire changing, The #14 Emil Frey Racing had gained a couple of position and occupied 13th place.
Half way through his second stint, Mikaël occupied 10th place. Towards the end of the second hour, a full course yellow reseted everyone as teams took advantage to complete a second pitstop. Grenier handed over the #14 to Norbert Siedler who also drove a double stint and brought it back in 10th place after his two hours at the wheel. Ricardo Feller had the last two hours to try to gain more positions but it seems that it was the maximum performance the car would allow for this race.
The field remained quite competitive for top positions throughout the race only for the #14 to loose a little of its performance throughout the middle part of the race and somehow then regained some competitiveness toward the later stages of the race as Mikaël Grenier commented after the race: “Our pace at the beginning and at the end of the race was okay. Compared to the others, we struggled a lot in the middle. For sure, we have some homework to do for next year”.
So it is in 11th position that Grenier/Siedler/Feller finished this 1000km of Circuit Paul-Ricard as their teammates in the #163 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO came in eight place.
Following the race, Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal commented on the team’s overall performance: “After a promising start by our #163 and a solid performance by our #14, I was of course hoping for different results. We delivered a strong performance at the start and Giacomo did an incredible job at the very top of the pack. However, due to tire wear, we lost grip and weren’t able to keep the pace throughout the race. We didn’t experience any technical errors or were given any penalties, which, of course, is a good thing. We’re concluding the season in fifth place in the overall ranking and in third place in the sprint series of the GT World Challenge Europe. I would like to thank the whole team for their hard work during this difficult year. The race weekends sometimes took place under very difficult circumstances, but we still managed to participate in all races and to finish the season.”
“It feels strange that the season is finished already. Today was a bit difficult, but I think we did the best we could. For sure, the start was crazy because a few drivers took a shortcut at the chicane and we lost some positions because of that – which isn’t fair. Then there was also the contact with the Lexus. Thank you to everyone. For many reasons it was a difficult year and we will come back stronger next season,” said Mikaël Grenier.
Norbert Siedler: “Of course, we imagined the race to be different. We aimed to finish in the Top 7. At the start, a Lexus touched our Lamborghini, which caused Mik to spin. In terms of speed, we weren’t where we were supposed to be. Something that started to become very clear halfway through the stint. All in all, one could say that we did well at the start, struggled in the middle of the race and began to pick up speed again toward the end of the race. The short season now sadly comes to an end. Now we’re looking forward and looking for ways to improve, so that we can fight right on top next season.”
Ricardo Feller: “This season felt both too short and too long. It was a challenging one, but I believe we were able to make a lot of progress and continuously kept improving the Lamborghini’s performance. I’m very grateful to have been part of the Emil Frey Racing Team in 2020 and hope that there’s going to be a next year. I’m not as happy with the last race but I think with P8 and P11, we managed to get the best we could. It’s not a perfect ending, but it’s also not a bad one. The potential to fight at the top is clearly there for both cars and I hope to prove that next year.”
After being away from home for a while now, Mikaël is to travel back home. Once he is settled, Canadian Racers News will get in touch with him to review the race and his season in the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS.
Images: Courtesy Emil Frey Racing
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