Emil Frey Lexus Racing secures second victory of the season at GT Open
- Start-/Finish win for Costa Balboa/Frommenwiler in Race #1
- Fantastic charge through the field in rain chaos in second race
- Swiss Team takes first-ever Pole Position worldwide for Lexus with the RC F GT3
Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), 28 May 2017:
Emil Frey Lexus Racing headed to the famous Formula 1 race track of Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) for the second championship weekend of the International GT Open. Following victory at the season-opener in Estoril, the Swiss team stormed to a fantastic start-/finish win in the race on Saturday. In the first wet race of the year on Sunday, Albert Costa Balboa impressed with a great charge through the field during chaotic weather conditions. A more than questionable 20-seconds penalty, which was unacceptable from a team´s point of view, meant a disappointing P14 instead of a podium finish and third place.
Race #1, Saturday, 27 May 2017 – 70 Minutes
The circuit in Spa was a completely new track for the Emil Frey Lexus Racing Team. Following the season-opener in Estoril four weeks ago, the team arrived at a track with a different layout – and the 7.004 km tarmac through the hilly countryside of the Ardennes has its drawbacks. However, the Lexus crew testified with P3 in the first Free Practice, that the new Lexus RC F GT3 would also show a good performance at this track.
The Spaniard Albert Costa Balboa underlined the previous achievement with fastest lap and Pole Position in the first Qualifying on Saturday, taking the first-ever Pole Position worldwide for Lexus with the new RC F GT3.
Costa Balboas´s race stint was interrupted by two Safety-Car periods, however, the 27-year-old was both times able to pull away from the field following the re-start, remaining in first place since the start. Team-mate Philipp Frommenwiler came back on track in the leading position after the pitstop and driver change. After 70 minutes race distance and a gap of 14 seconds, the Swiss crossed the finishing line as the victorious car ahead of the #65 BMW and the #488 Ferrari.
Race #2, Sunday, 28 May 2017 – 60 Minutes
Following the sunny summer-weather on Saturday, it started to rain just in time for qualifying on Sunday morning. Philipp Frommenwiler suffered bad luck on both his two fast laps: Firstly, he was hindered by some slower cars on track and on his second fast lap, the session was stopped due to an accident. The result was a sixth place for the starting grid for the second race of the weekend.
Frommenwiler started into the race on not completely fresh tyres and lost a few positions during his stint. After the so-called 15-seconds Handicap due to winning on Saturday, Albert Costa Balboa returned to the track in 12th position following the longer time standing during the pitstop. With 20 minutes to go until the end of the race, Spa lived up to its name as a weather-chaotic region: torrential rain made racing on the first part of the track almost impossible and the Safety Car was deployed. Costa Balboa had a moment of shock, when he spun in Turn 10 (Bruxelles) and stopped with the rear tyres in the gravel. Luckily, he was able to recover and pitted to get rain tyres. The Safety Car came in with nine minutes to go in the race and Costa Balboa started an impressive charge through the field coming from 10th place. After some great overtakings, he was running in P4 when he had an unlucky and slight contact with the #23 Lamborghini, which spun in due course. Costa Balboa crossed the finishing line in third place, however, was given a 20-seconds penalty afterwards and was put back into 14th place.
After the third and fourth championship round, Emil Frey Lexus Racing is now in third place in the teams championship standings, with both drivers in second place.
The next race of the International GT Open will take place from 9 until 11 June 2017 at Paul Ricard (France).
Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“There is no justification for the penalty, because it was the same driver who forced the Farnbacher Lexus into the grass a few laps before and there was no penalty for that. In general, the weekend went exceptionally well. The car was well-prepared by the team for both races and the drivers did a great job. In both races, even in tricky conditions, they were lapping consistently in the quickest lap-times. In the end and from a technical point, the Lexus went faultless throughout the entire weekend. We had no technical issues and the team worked very well together once again. That gives me a positive feeling, because the car has potential and the win in Estoril was no coincidence. We will build on that and we are also pleased, that Farnbacher won a race again as well.”
Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“We are very pleased with the weekend, however we cannot quite comprehend the undeserved penalty we received on Sunday. But we are still happy, because we were able to prove that the win in Estoril was no one-day wonder, but that the Lexus is a competitive race car. Farnbacher Racing was also able to win again here at Spa. For us, it is mostly important to understand the car better. The hard work by everyone in the team in this years test program is even nicer, when we can take home a race win.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“I am just excited to win at my favourite track driving this amazing race car the team gave me today (Saturday). We also took the first Pole Position for Lexus, which is very important for all the team. Of course, the combination of driving a great car at your favourite track is like a dream. The Lexus was working very well from the beginning to the end and Philipp was also very happy with the Set-up. The second race was very exciting and I feel sorry for the team that we received the penalty. The team did such a good job all weekend and I would like to thank them for their work.”
Philipp Frommenwiler (CH)
“I would like to thank both Emil Frey Racing and Lexus for the great car we were able to drive this weekend. Albert had a great start-stint following his Pole Position and I brought home the victory.
The Lexus ran really well all weekend. We managed the change from Estoril to Spa very well since the track layouts are completely different. All in all, we had a really good weekend and can be pleased with our performance.”