Disappointing Race-Sunday for Emil Frey Lexus Racing at debut weekend at Hungaroring
- #54 Lexus impresses with strong lap times
- First non-finish of the season following non-faulty collision
- Costa Balboa/Frommenwiler fourth in Drivers’ Championship, Team is running in P5
Budapest, Hungaroring (Hungary), 02 July 2017:
The Emil Frey Lexus Racing Team did not have luck on their side at the debut weekend at the Hungaroring. Despite a strong performance with fourth place in the first race of the International GT Open on Saturday, the Swiss team suffered the first non-finish of the season in the race on Sunday. Following a not-at-fault collision on lap ten, the #54 Lexus RC F GT3 was unable to continue in the race. With both the seventh and eighth round of the championship now completed, the drivers Albert Costa Balboa and Philipp Frommenwiler are now in fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst the team is currently in fifth place.
Race #1, Saturday, 01 July 2017 – 70 minutes
In the qualifying for the first race, Albert Costa Balboa took to the wheel of the #54 Lexus RC F GT3 to qualify in fifth position. Therefore, the Spaniard started from third row into the 70-minute-race and had an exciting opening stint. Despite losing P5 to the BMW of Tiago Monteiro, Costa Balboa took back the position right at the end of lap one following a courageous overtaking move. Until the pitstop, the Lexus driver had a great battle with the #24 McLaren of Duncan Tappy, showing great fighting spirit especially in Turns seven and eight, trying to move past the McLaren.
The Lexus crew decided to pit very late, which should result in a clever strategic move. Costa Balboa handed over the car to Philipp Frommenwiler from P5, with the Swiss rejoining the race in fourth position. Thanks to the great strategy, the team won one position in the pitlane, overtaking the #24 McLaren. With an approximate gap of ten seconds to third place, Frommenwiler set one fast lap after another, driving 0.5 seconds per lap faster than the rest of the field. There was drama in the leading group in the remaining five minutes of the race and the leading Ferrari #488 was put back into third place. Frommenwiler saw his chances for a podium, but the #8 Ferrari backmarker hindered him to overtake in the second-to-last-lap, which cost a lot of time to catch the #488.
Frommenwiler crossed the finishing line in fourth place. Due to victory of the #1 Lamborghini, the driver pairing Costa Balboa/Frommenwiler lost the lead in the Drivers’ Championship and was running in P2 with a gap of three points following the seventh championship race. Emil Frey Lexus Racing was currently running in third place in the teams’ standings.
Race #2, Sunday, 02 July 2017 – 60 minutes
The second qualifying was disappointing with P18 for the Lexus crew. Despite only starting from row nine, Philipp Frommenwiler had a phenomenal start to the race, making up a total of eight positions by the end of lap one. After the great first opening laps, Frommenwiler suffered a side-by-side contact when overtaking the #51 BMW, which forced him to retire the Lexus at the garage.
The Emil Frey Lexus Racing Team experienced the first DNF in the eighth race of the year following a collision none of their fault. The drivers Costa Balboa and Frommenwiler are now fourth in the championship standing, with the team running in P5.
Team Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing
Hannes Gautschi, Technical Coordinator Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“We had a very good race on Saturday and managed to score some points again, but the BoP-rule was still not in our favour. Philipp had a great start to the race on Sunday and had a great drive in the beginning, but then the fault was clearly with the BMW, it should not have happened. It was a disappointing end to the weekend for us and we now have to fully attack again at Silverstone following the summer break.”
Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Lexus Racing
“Looking at the entire weekend, we were strong again with a good performance. It is a real shame to be involved in that collision, in which we had no fault whatsoever. Philipp had an incredible start and made up a lot of positions. We had a good pace despite running on used tyres and we would have had a fresh set of tyres for the last 30 minutes of the race. I am sure, we could have scored some important points again. The #51 BMW has received a penalty with five positions setback for the next race, but that doesn´t safe our race this time.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54
Albert Costa Balboa (ESP)
“Unfortunately, we have had a great season which ended with a disappointment this time. We still showed a really good race on Saturday and after the great start by Philipp on Sunday, we could have scored more points again. The race incident hit us hard and we are now nine points behind in the run for the championships lead. The team is even 23 points behind the leaders. We are now heading into the summer break and will come back strong again at Silverstone.”
Philipp Frommenwiler (CH)
“It really is frustrating to end the race with a broken car after such a strong start into the race. It has been quite some time since I have seen a collision like that. I had the advantage against the BMW and it is difficult to understand for a professional driver to make such a mistake. We had a super strategy following qualifying and we were on the right way to bring home some points. It´s a shame, now we have lost the lead in the championship ahead of the long summer break.”
Photo by FOTOSPEEDY