Emil Frey Lexus Racing completes successful season with win in final race
• Driver Costa Balboa / Frommenwiler third in International GT Open Overall Standings
• Four race victories in debut season for Emil Frey Lexus Racing
• Costa Balboa with third Pole Position of the year on home track for Spaniard
Barcelona (Spain), 30 October 2017:
Emil Frey Lexus Racing has completed its successful debut season with the Lexus RC F GT3 with yet another race victory. The Swiss team secured its fourth win of the season in the last race on Sunday following a disappointing race on Saturday at the season final of the International GT Open at Barcelona (Spain). With a strong performance, drivers Albert Costa Balboa and Philipp Frommenwiler secured third place in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst the team also secured third position in the team’s standings in their premiere year with the Lexus on European ground.
Race #1, Saturday, 28 October 2017 – 70 minutes
After the team concluded a successful two-day test at Barcelona in the summer, the Spaniard Albert Costa Balboa put in a great laptime on his home track and placed the Lexus RC F GT3 on Pole Position for the first race. With the third Pole Position of the season, the first and important milestone towards winning the championship title was set.
The second-to-last start into the 70 minute race was thrilling and not to surpass. Costa Balboa had a good start and found himself right within a “Lamborghini-Sandwich” on the way to the first corner, whilst a total of four race cars were running side-by-side in a bid to take the lead into the first corner. The #54 driver took a setback and settled in fourth position. With his direct championship contenders right in front of him in the points, Costa Balboa started his charge and was soon running in second place. The Lexus pitted at the same time as championship leader, the #63 Lamborghini. A short problem during refuelling of the #54 Lexus RC F GT3 cost the Swiss team important seconds and team-mate Philipp Frommenwiler re-joined the race in fifth place.
After a strong overtaking past the #20 PROAM Mercedes-AMG GT3, the Emil Frey Racing Lexus suddenly retired shortly after. In the beginning stages of the race, the Lexus was hit in an unfair move by the #23 Lamborghini, which damaged both the radiator as well as the rear of the Lexus heavily. Frommenwiler was forced to stop the #54 Lexus RC F GT3 at the side of the track and all hopes for the championship title had come to a sudden end.
After the first race in Barcelona, the drivers were now down in fifth place in the drivers’ standings.
Race #2, Sunday, 29 October 2017 – 60 minutes
Emil Frey Lexus Racing had to put in a nightshift to get the Lexus RC F GT3 all ready again for the final race of the 2017 International GT Open season, following the great disappointment on Saturday with the heavy damage on the car. Despite all chances for the title out of reach, the team aimed for a good result for the season final.
Frommenwiler made the first step with P6 in qualifying and after a phenomenal start, the Swiss was running already in second position when turning into the first corner. After a Safety Car period at the beginning of the race, the team decided to pit Frommenwiler early, after the had pressure from the #5 Ferrari. Costa Balboa set very fast lap times and was able to come back right behind the leaders. In the last third of the race, he fought with the #51 BMW for race victory and seven minutes before the end, he took over the leading position of the race. The Lexus driver was able to increase the gap immediately and took fourth race victory of the Emil Frey Lexus Racing with almost 12 seconds ahead of the BMW when crossing the finishing line.
Thanks to an outstanding performance on Sunday, Costa Balboa and Frommenwiler secured third place in the Drivers’ Championship. The team also finished in third in their debut season with the Lexus RC F GT3.
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Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“We were fully motivated ahead of this weekend to fight for the drivers’ championship. Therefore, the car was even more meticulously prepared and checked by both our mechanics Christian Gasser and Rafael Gautschi in our workshop in Safenwil. Thanks to this great preparation of our Lexus RC F GT3, the car ran once again without any technical issues throughout the entire weekend, if there wasn´t the attack by the Lamborghini on Saturday. The team did an outstanding job and secured Pole Position on Saturday. But the race start did not go to plan and we lost some positions. The incomprehensive attack by the #23 Lamborghini, which drove into our rear and damaged our radiator, lead to a broken gearbox and to our retirement. The disappointment within the team was obviously great, to finish all hopes for the title like that. But we would not be Emil Frey Lexus Racing if we would not come back shortly after this frustration. The mechanics put in an extra shift during the night until almost 2am and we could re-start the car, also thanks to a spare oil cooler given to us by Farnbacher Racing. It was great to secure the fourth race win and the fifth podium on Sunday.”
Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“Not only the weekend was characterised with ups and downs, this summarised our first season with the Lexus RC F GT3. But the successes and happy moments outweigh everything. Despite not winning the Drivers title in the end, we can be proud to have won third place for our drivers. We have finished the season superbly as we started with our first win in the first race in Estoril. We continuously improved throughout the seven race weekend, gained a lot of know-how and are pleased with the development. Nobody would have imagined at the beginning of the year that we would take four race victories and three Pole Positions. A great thank you to our drivers Albert and Philipp for their strong and consistent performance and to everyone in the team for the great season.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“We knew ahead of the weekend that it would be difficult to win the championship with 14 points behind. But, to be honest, to be third in our first year is just great. Of course, we were immensely disappointed on Saturday, but we got the compensation on Sunday. Philipp had a strong qualifying and a mega start. We gave everything we had in the end. Now, we have ended the season as we began it – with a strong race win.”
Philipp Frommenwiler (CH)
“The team did a fantastic job and worked on the car until 2am in the morning to get everything up and running again for Sunday. A big thank you to everyone in the team. I had a very good start and then we were just flying. It was a fantastic race and a very nice end to a great season.”