13th place for Lexus RC F GT3 at first-ever Total 24 Hours of Spa
- Blessing in disguise: Stéphane Ortelli escapes horror crash in Eau Rouge unhurt
- High reliability and no problems during whole 24 hours
- Strong Top-15 finish in highly competitive GT3 field
Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), 30 July 2018:
The first Total 24 Hours of Spa for Emil Frey Lexus Racing were overshadowed by a heavy accident. Following a strong opening phase for the number 114 up into second place, a heavy accident occurred in Eau Rouge during the night, from which the Monegasque Stéphane Ortelli escaped without injuries. After a strong race, underlining the immense reliability of the Japanese race car, the sister car crossed the finishing line in an excellent 13th place overall.
With the adjustment of the “Balance of Performance” the extra weight was significant, especially during qualifying. The number #114 secured 26th position on the grid with the sister car making the jump into Super Pole to take 17th place.
The Total 24 Hours of Spa started in sunny and for Spa-Francorchamps untypical hot temperatures and both starting drivers Christian Klien (#14) and Norbert Siedler (#114) faced no issues in the first laps. Especially the #114 had a strong opening phase of the race and was able to drive in second place for a long period of time. But a contact from another competitor and the resulting tyre failure set the team back again and the #14 also suffered bad luck during the race: a tyre failure and a short penalty for not respecting track limits were the reasons. These circumstances lead to the Lexus team not being able to fight for a podium in the end, but came home in an excellent 13th place in a strong and highly competitive GT3 field.
It was not an easy, first 24-hours race for Emil Frey Lexus Racing, however, the Lexus RC F GT3 demonstrated its reliability in an impressive manner throughout the entire race. All three drivers, Albert Costa Balboa, Christian Klien and Marco Seefried drove fast lap times in all their stints, which were as good as the front runners racing at the top. It is a strong result for the Lexus crew to take home 13th overall place from a total of 63 participators.
Emil Frey Racing continue to maintain their third place in the Blancpain GT Series Team Standings. After the summer break, racing will commence with the Sprint Cup race at Budapest (Hungary) at the last weekend of August. The entire Emil Frey Racing Team wishes our pilot Stéphane Ortelli a speedy recovery.
Emil Frey Lexus Racing – The Movie: Road to Success
Following the premiere at the Total 24 Hours of Spa with the Lexus RC F GT3 last weekend, the Swiss race team is also excited about the first screening of a 30-minute moving, showing the development and the founding of Emil Frey Lexus Racing – a special and fascinating inside behind the scenes also reflecting on the private team´s tradition. The film is available on the Emil Frey Racing YouTube channel. Furthermore, the format will be broadcast in over 40 international TV channels, for example in 16 European countries, in North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Middle East and Africa. More information on broadcasting dates will be announced on Social Media shortly.
Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Racing
“Stéphane (Ortelli) suffered a heavy accident during the night but he was lucky and was not injured, he is in good conditions considering the circumstances. A big, big thank you goes out to the team from the Medical Center, they acted very quickly and flew him straight to the nearest hospital for a check-up. Now he needs to take things easy and recover, but I was glad when he told me immediately that once the car is fixed he will be back behind the wheel. The accident overshadowed the entire race, but the whole team did not lose their concentration and kept working professionally until the end. It is a good result to finish in 13th place in our first 24-hours race with the new Lexus RC F GT3.”
Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“We checked the cars even more meticulously over the past weeks than we did before, every single part was looked at and measured and if needed replaced. This paid off, because both Lexus were absolutely reliable and that already at the test, in each training session and in qualifying. There are probably only a handful of cars in the entire field, that can say they survived the 24-hours without any problems and were able to drive for a podium result. Both Lexus and the team have shown a maximum of commitment, reliability and professionals for their first 24-hours race. This, for example, proofed the #114, who ran in second place for a longer time. Of course, the accident put a shadow on everything. Thanks to the professional and quick help by the marshals and the medical team, Stéphane was able to get a quick check-up.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #14
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“It was not an easy race for us and the car was not 100% were I would have liked it to be. We had to look after the tyres, because that was critical. We survived the night, but until the end it was still a very long race. It was the first time for me to see the chequered flag at this race and in my stints, I pushed very hard and gave everything to reach some points. P13 in the end is just amazing!”
Christian Klien (A)
“It was the second time for me to drive the start into a 24-hours race. Everything went pretty unspectacular, which you want for a long race. My first stint was difficult, because the tyres were wearing out quickly. But the problem got better in the course of the race, because the track got more grip, which benefited our car. The night was crazy with the accident of our team-mate Stéphane, but luckily he is alright.”
Marco Seefried (GER)
“My stints were ok, but unfortunately we had some oversteering to fight with and sometimes it was difficult to drive. Despite the shock of the accident of Stéphane, the whole team continued to work well, and we were able to continue to push in the race. We are all very happy about the 13th place.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #114
Norbert Siedler (A)
“It is always something special to drive at Spa. You don´t see everything during the night, but the lights on the new GT3 cars are pretty good. We are all very happy for Stéphane to be well. My start was ok and I made-up some positions, but unfortunately the tyre pressure started raising after about 30 minutes and that resulted in understeering. It was not easy to drive. We managed to reduce the pressure bit by bit and that worked better. In parts we were doing very well, and I think, we could have reached a Top-10 result.”
Markus Palttala (FIN)
“Despite our recent success we came to this race as underdogs. The first few hours went perfect. We were running as high as second place after three hours and fighting a long time in the Top-10, which once again proves the quality of this team. Stéphane’s crash was very unfortunate and right now the only thing that matters is that he was not seriously injured. I wish him a speedy recovery and want to thank every single person in the team for their huge efforts here at Spa, but also the weeks and months leading to this race.”