Bitter results despite strong prospects at the 24h of Spa

  • – All three Lamborghinis took part in Super Pole thanks to a strong Qualifying
  • – Super Pole results: P4 #14, P11 #114, P17 #163
  • – Dramatic accident leads to an early end for #114 and #163 after 22 minutes only
  • – #14 retires with only 45 minutes to go because of accident caused by hydroplaning

Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), August 1st 2021

This weekend, it was time for Emil Frey Racing to take on the season highlight of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe, which also happens to be the longest race of the year. 9 world-leading automotive brands with a total of 58 cars were gathered at the start in Belgian Spa-Francorchamps. As usual, the team started the weekend off with a Free Practice and a Pre-Qualifying session, with dry and warm conditions for the two sessions. The following positions were the results of Thursday’s activity:

Free Practice      #14 P35      #114 P25      #163 P10
Pre-Qualifying    #14 P26      #114 P55      #163 P47

Conditions continued to be dry during Qualifying. Fontana behind the #14 wheel hadn’t even finished his first lap yet, when Tim Zimmerman – a Lamborghini-competitor – caused an accident which led to the Qualifying being interrupted for a long period, with time being stopped at 8 minutes to go. As soon as the session resumed however, it had to be interrupted again, this time because of a Mercedes-spin. Emil Frey Racing was on P7 with the #163, P14 with the #14 and P16 with the #114. Feller took over the #14 for the last stint of the Qualifying and delivered brilliant lap times. «This is the car that I want to have for the race», were the words we could hear him say over the team’s radio, while he was fighting his way to P1 with the #14 during his stint, even clocking in the fastest lap time among the other competitors. Emil Frey Racing finished the Qualifying on P9 #163, P10 #114 and P12 #14.

Super Pole
Thanks to the solid Qualifying results, all three Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis qualified themselves for the Super Pole, which meant the team got to battle it out over the first 20 starting positions on the grid. Costa (#163), Feller (#14) and Aitken (#114) took on that fight. Just in time for the start, it started to drizzle, which didn’t seem to faze the Emil Frey Racing drivers at all. The whole team delivered a successful Super Pole performance, landing on excellent starting positions for the race: P4 for #14, P11 for #114 and P17 for #163. Unfortunately, Aitken’s fastest lap time was cancelled for allegedly exceeding track limits in Turn 1, a great pity and a penalty that was hard to comprehend. The #114 could have started from P2 with that lap time.

Having caused quite a stir, track limits didn’t just play a major role right at the beginning, but all throughout the whole race as well and led to numerous drive-through penalties. Perera in the #163 Lamborghini received several warnings within the first 15 minutes for repeatedly exceeding track limits. His teammate Feller and other competitors weren’t spared either. Only 22 minutes into the race, a dramatic accident occurred at Raidillon, that involved both the #114 Lamborghini (Aitken) and the #163 Lamborghini (Perera) as well as two other cars. After hitting the tire wall, the #114 came to a standstill in the middle of the track. Teammate Perera, who was right behind Aitken, unfortunately hit his unmoving car as he wasn’t able avoid the collision. Two other cars were also involved in the accident, as they, too, didn’t have time to dodge. Perera was released from the medical center after a thorough checkup. Aitken was transferred to a hospital for further check-ups. He suffered a broken collarbone and a fractured vertebra but is fortunately stable. The Emil Frey Racing Team wishes Jack and all drivers involved a speedy recovery. Jack sends the following message from the hospital:

“First of all, thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last several hours, from the marshals, medical staff trackside and at the hospital, my wonderful team, fellow drivers and all of you sending messages. All things considered I feel fine, and quite lucky. I’m also sorry for my teammates that we didn’t get to compete, and for the other cars involved. The aim now is to get back to the UK and start to recover as best as possible and be back in the car soon. I’m sure with the people around me I’ll manage it just fine!”

The last remaining Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini with the #14 delivered solid lap times from the get-go. With 6 hours on the clock, Ineichen’s rear got hit by a competitor but he was able to pit the car to the despite the damage. The mechanics were able to repair the damage fast, but alas, a place at the top became a distant dream. The pitstop cost the crew 6 laps and the chase was on. Due to speeding in the pitlane, the #14 was also given a drive-through penalty. After 11 hours, a flawless technical pitstop took place. With 8.5 hours to go, Emil Frey Racing was battling it out in P32. Swiss Trio Feller/Fontana/Ineichen once again showed how well they work as a team. Luck really wasn’t on their side, however, and at only 3.5 hours before finish, the rear wing of the #14 got loose. At the pitstop that followed, mechanics from the other crews were able to help and they all managed, together, to get the car ready to return to the racetrack quite fast. Heavy rain started to fall with only 45 minutes left on the clock. Feller lost control over the #14 due to hydroplaning at the turn before pit entry to change to wets, which led to a contact with a competitor’s car. Alas, the race came to an early end for the third and last Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini as well. Expectations after the Qualifying and Super Pole were not met at the race. Though the team may be disappointed over the results, the team is all the more relieved that the dramatic accident didn’t cause any more damage, and that Jack Aitken, Franck Perera and the two other drivers that were involved are all doing well given the circumstances.

Fanatec Esports
This weekend as well – just like in any other Endurance weekend – the virtual race by the Fanatec Esports Series completed the race action. Drivers Rougier and Fontana stepped into the race simulators on behalf of Emil Frey Racing. The two delivered a thrilling race, which was dominated by Arthur Rougier for quite a time. At the straight, however, he was lacking top speed, which is why he fell back to P2. Nevertheless, he gained valuable points and the results of the virtual race were: P2 (Pro-Category, Arthur Rougier) and P12 (Silver-Category, Alex Fontana).