GT World Challenge Europe - Sprint Cup Barcelona - Emil Frey Racing

The Safenwil Squad traveled in high spirits to Barcelona for the final leg of the Sprint Series of the GT World Challenge Europe 2020. The entire crew was in Barcelona – with the exception of Norbert Siedler, who had to sit this race out due to health reasons and was replaced by teammate Ricardo Feller. It was a strong weekend for both Ricardo Feller and Emil Frey Racing. 

 

Pre-Qualifying / Qualifying 1 / Race 1

Feller and Costa went first at the Pre-Qualifying. The two drivers felt visibly at ease in their respective Lamborghinis, which is why no major adjustments had to be made. Feller finished his stint on P4 and handed over the #14 to Grenier. Costa, at the wheel of #163, placed himself right behind Grenier, on P5. Shortly thereafter, with only about half an hour to go, rain started to pour. Meanwhile, Altoè was handed over #163 and struggled with missing grip. Still, the two crews emerged on P5 (#14) and P6 (#163).
Only minutes before the start of the first qualifying, with a total of 21 drivers on the grid, it started to drizzle. The tire choice would now be crucial. Emil Frey Racing decided to go on Slicks for both Lamborghinis. Feller then sped off and placed himself right at the front within the first five minutes, with a Mercedes and a Bentley right behind him. Altoè as well produced a stellar pace and charged to P3. As the teams performed their pit stops, rain increased. Thankfully, Emil Frey Racing had managed to gain a solid lead that translated to a lap time of 1:45.572 and a pole position for #14, and another solid 1:45.975 on P3 for #163.

The start of the first race didn’t deliver any spectacular moments. However, just 10 minutes in, a first interruption had to be called due to a Ferrari landing on the gravel. Once the safety car period was over, both teams went for a pit stop and a driver change to Costa/Grenier. The fast pit stop by the #163 crew even gained them a spot, placing them in P2.  Meanwhile, #14s excellent pit stop not only helped them defend their P1, but even strengthened the lead. With only 15 minutes to go, Costa edged his way forward and overtook his sister car with the #14. The Emil Frey Racing squad therefore bagged a double-victory: P1 for #163 and P2 for #14, and to top that off: a victory for the #14 Lamborghini in the Silver Cup.

 

Qualifying 2 / Race 2

The #14 Lamborghini with Grenier at the wheel would be starting the second race from P11 on the grid. Conditions were dry at the beginning of the second race. Grenier went for it in the very first minute, trying to overtake SKY-Tempesta Racing’s Ferrari, resulting in Grenier touching the Ferrari’s rear. While he managed to place himself on P7 with that move, he was penalized with a Drive-Through-Penalty. After the drive-through-penalty, the car with the #14 was handed over to Feller, who was able to gain two positions thanks to the fast pit stop. The #14 Lamborghini finished the race on P8 and even clinched third place in the silver class.

 

Qualifying 3 / Race 3

Once again, it was Costa and Grenier who were going to start with their respective Lamborghinis, and once again, they were able to keep the brilliant pace. The #163 Lamborghini gained a sizeable lead over the rest of the pack – a position Costa was able to successfully defend. Meanwhile, Canadian Grenier raced to P7 during halftime, with room for improvement in the third sector. 1 minute and 30 seconds before the end of the race, traffic was building, which wasn’t helping Costa at all. The Spaniard finished the qualy on P4 with his #163 Lamborghini, while Grenier with the #14 finished on P6. The third and last sprint race of the season started spectacularly: a crash involving several cars led to the race being interrupted only seconds into the race. It took a full 10 minutes before the race could continue. In the meantime, Ricardo Feller took over the #14 from Mikael Grenier, keeping a brilliant pace. The Swiss driver even recorded the fastest lap time with 24 minutes left on the clock. His colleague Altoè, meanwhile, battled his way forward and placed himself on P4. With only 15 minutes to go, Feller had one goal in mind: to pass the Audi in front of him. But easier said than done. The timer was mercilessly counting down, with only 8 minutes on the clock, and Feller still on P4. Feller’s fighting spirit paid off: The Swiss driver charged forward and pulled off a spectacular overtaking maneuver, securing him P3, and with it, Emil Frey Racing’s second podium in Barcelona. The crew with the #163 emerged as fifth. The Safenwil squad therefore placed itself firmly in third place in the overall team ranking of the Sprint Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe.

 

Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal
The team showed a lot of fighting spirit this weekend. I’m immensely proud of the double-victory in the first race; the two honors in the Silver Cup; the pole positions; and finally, of placing third in the overall ranking of the Sprint Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe. The denied victory in the second race and with it, the setback in the race for the overall Sprint Cup title is of course extremely hard for us. Still, it’s paramount to stay clear-headed for the last two race weekends. We definitely had a shot at a title-bid for the sprint cup. Now we’re shifting focus to the 24h of Spa.

 

Ricardo Feller (CH)
It really was an excellent weekend. We showed a lot of potential. The pole position was a great achievement and the result of a strong performance. We could have won the first race, so I’m quite happy. We struggled a bit in the second race because we started a little bit further back and I got stuck behind a Mercedes. I was able to finish in P8 despite the drive through penalty. The last race was super fun as I engaged in a lot of duels with other drivers. The car was in great condition. Now I’m just looking forward to Spa.

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