Difficult weekend for Emil Frey Lexus Racing at Season Final at the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup am Nürburgring
- Tyre gamble with Pirelli tyres for the first time
- Successful driver pairing with Stéphane Ortelli and Albert Costa Balboa
- #54 Lexus RC F GT3 sees chequered flag in both races
Nürburgring (Germany), 17 September 2017:
Following a sensational race weekend with P1 and P3 at the International GT Open at Silverstone two weeks ago, Emil Frey Lexus Racing was eagerly looking forward to the premiere at the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at Nürburgring. The Swiss team celebrated its debut with their Lexus RC F GT3 at the season final of this high-class GT3 championship. The trial, especially for the Lexus the new Pirelli tyres, was purely as a further test in this year’s development program. Despite two results in the average mid-field, the team was able to gather important information and experiences for the future. But for now, the focus is back on the last two races of the International GT Open Championship.
Qualifying Race, Saturday, 16 September 2017 – 60 minutes
In sunny but cold and Nürburgring unlike dry conditions, Emil Frey Lexus Racing found plenty of track time to slowly get to know the Pirelli tyres. Stéphane Ortelli impressed at the beginning of the first qualifying with a Top-10 position, but had to settle for P16 in the end. Albert Costa Balboa was also running well in Q2, but he faced red-flags twice whilst being on a fast lap, hence he was unable to improve further into the third and final qualifying session for the best 17 cars.
Costa Balboa started from 29th on the grid into the debut race of the Blancpain GT Series for the Lexus RC F GT3. After a good, first lap, the Spaniard was already running in P23 and was able to gain three more positions before the pitstop. Within two weeks, the Lexus crew had to adapt, other than in the GT Open, for the regulated pit stop rules of the Blancpain GT Series. Despite the missed training, the team absolved impeccable pitstops. Team-mate Ortelli returned to the track in 26th position and improved up into P22 by the time of the chequered flag.
Sprint Cup Race, Sunday, 17 September 2017 – 60 minutes
In the final main race of this year´s Sprint Cup, Ortelli started from 22nd place. Following a few issues at the beginning, the Monegasque lost two positions only to gain one back following a short Safety-Car period. Costa Balboa took behind the wheel of the Lexus RC F GT3 from P22 and made up one position by the end of the race.
Emil Frey Lexus Racing secured the positions 22 and 21 at their very first appearance in the highly competitive Blancpain GT Series.
Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“For us, this weekend was more about getting a preparation and an inside view into race conditions of a Blancpain GT Series race. Of course, there was not enough time for an additional test between the race at Silverstone two weeks ago and here. We drive on Michelin tyres in the International GT Open Championship, the Blancpain Series uses Pirelli. Tyres area always both significant and relevant. Until now, we did not have any data, how our car would function on Pirelli tyres and which Set-up changes we would have to implement in order for the tyres to work their optimum. We made up a few positions in the Qualifying Race, but were not able to find the right Set-up. We started like that into the main race, but kept on top of the positions where we started.”
Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“We know from the start that it would not be an easy weekend for us. Our aim was to gain a lot of experience with the Pirelli tyres as well as the new format of the Sprint Cup races. We finished both races without any problems and managed to get the desired experiences. Therefore, we have met our goals this weekend. Especially working on the Set-up with a new tyre manufacturer as Pirelli gave us a lot of information for the future. We also suffered a bit of bad luck, particularly in the second qualifying, as we faced two red flags and were unable to improve our lap times, otherwise we would have been able to finish further up the field. The drivers have done a great job. The team has benefited immensely from their exact feedback and their faultless drives.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“Unfortunately, we had a difficult weekend, because we were running on Pirelli tyres for the first time and had a few issues finding the right Set-up for us. After a strong Q1 we had bad luck in the second qualifying, as on both my fast laps we had red flags. I was unable to improve my lap times and could not enter the last and third qualifying session. The pace of the car in the race was not bad and we were able to fight for positions. As Emil Frey Lexus Racing, we can be proud of ourselves, because we arrived without any experience, also with the Pirelli tyres, and we were still able to run within the field.”
Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
“We definitely had the potential in qualifying. We continuously learned across the weekend, it was especially not easy to find the right Set-up with the new Pirelli tyres. The cold weather at Nürburgring surely also played a part, since we had not done any races with the Lexus in similar conditions. Despite that we were able to attack in the race and made up some positions. When looking at the entry list, we fought against some of the strongest teams and cars, all of which have immense experience and have been able to prepare for this last race all season long.”