Emil Frey Racing rewarded with Silver Cup podium in 24 Hours of Spa
- #14 crew of White, Lappalainen and Tujula third in class and 16th overall
- Pro entry of Altoè, Roussel and Rougier make it two cars in top 20
- Disappointment for #63 after punctures and late-night crash
Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), July 31st, 2022
Emil Frey Racing came through a challenging edition of the 24 Hours of Spa with a well-deserved Silver Cup podium finish courtesy of Stuart White, Konsta Lappalainen and Tuomas Tujula. The crew of the #14 Lamborghini Huracán finished third – and 16th overall – to cap off a strong weekend and add to its Endurance Cup points tally.
The sister #19 machine of Giacomo Altoè, Léo Roussel and Arthur Rougier also made the finish, taking a solid 14th place finish, ensuring two Emil Frey cars recorded a top 20 result. Meanwhile, there was frustration for the #63 Pro entry of Mirko Bortolotti, Albert Costa Balboa and Jack Aitken which, despite starting fourth on the grid, was forced to retired following an accident during the night.
Following the return of the traditional parade – which takes the cars from the circuit into the heart of Spa town – for the first time since 2019, track action began in earnest on Thursday morning with free practice. Traffic was a major issue, with 66 cars on track, and multiple red flags prevented all three cars from completing long run race simulations. Pre-qualifying was also interrupted twice by red flag stoppages. In qualifying, all three cars made it through to Super Pole for the second year in a row by dint of finishing inside the top 20. The #63 was 12th fastest in the combined times, four places ahead of the #14, while the #19 car was 18th quickest. Small setup changes were made to the cars, centred around optimising balance and tyre management.
As expected, Friday’s Super Pole was a highly competitive affair, with just 1.254-seconds covering the entire top 20. The best of the Emil Frey Racing cars was the #63, with Bortolotti setting the fifth fastest time. Altoè was at the wheel of the #19 and finished 12th, with Lappalainen unlucky across his two laps ending up 20th on the grid. All three cars moved up one position after a penalty for the pole-sitting #6 Lamborghini on Saturday morning.
As the field was released at the start, Bortolotti immediately moved up to third place at Eau Rouge, while Altoè dropped one spot to 12th on the opening lap. Lappalainen lost three positions but remained on the cusp of the Silver Cup podium in fourth during his first stint. The #63 then hit trouble after 47 minutes, suffering a right-rear puncture which dropped it down the order. A further two punctures were spotted during a chaotic first hour, with the race eventually ending after Costa Balboa crashed at around 1am exiting the Piff Paff. That left two cars for the remainder of the race, with the #19 showing strong pace through the night as Rougier and Altoè completed double stints. The #14 also played itself into class contention by the morning and entered a strategic battle with the two Audis ahead. Unfortunately, while the opening hour was littered with full course yellow periods, the cards did not fall Emil Frey Racing’s way in the morning as ill-timed safety cars prevented any major positional changes.
In the end, the #14 battled hard with the pair of Audis ahead and finished 16th overall - and third in class - despite suffering a late-race puncture with Tujula at the wheel. White took over for the final 45 minutes and kept it clean to secure the podium. Altoè brought the #19 to the finish in 14th.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal
“It’s a bittersweet feeling as a 24-hour race is never easy and, especially after getting all three cars into the superpole, we for sure expected a bit more in the race. On our side, we made too many mistakes which cost us a lot. The speeding in the pitlane and track limits violations meant we lost a lot of time, but I am really happy for the #14 car that they got onto the podium, they were really strong all race. We are still investigating what happened with the #63, because our data showed that something went wrong to cause the crash for Albert. It looked like something was damaged, so we need to look at that. For the #19 as well as the #14, we had no technical issues, so this was a big positive for us.”
Jürg Flach, Technical Director
“Of course, it isn’t the result we were hoping for before the race, but we can nonetheless be happy with a podium. We had a reliable car, and we were able to score after six hours and the after 24 hours, so it was a good race from our side. Strategically, we were well prepared, but we had too many penalties and tyre issues, so this was complicating everything. But we have to take it. I’m sad about the #63, the puncture lost us our rhythm, so I am very sorry for them. The pace, overall, was good but there are so many parameters that make up the 24 Hours and we just didn’t quite have them all.
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Stuart White (ZAF)
“I am more happy than I am tired; to finish a 24 Hours of Spa first of all is an achievement but to get a podium is really amazing. Luck never really was on our side, but we had the pace to get it back and fight for the lead. Thanks to everyone at Emil Frey and Lamborghini for all their hard work behind the scenes. It can now hopefully get better and better from now on. The stints at night were really good as we were also able to show our pace and we managed to gain the lead a few times so I am really pleased with how we performed all race with all three drivers.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19
Giacomo Altoè (ITA)
“I’m happy to finally finish my first Spa 24 Hours after five attempts! I really want to thank Lamborghini for their reliability, we didn’t a single problem all race, and then all the Emil Frey Racing team did such a good job all race. We were driving quite safe so as to avoid any problems like the other cars had, especially early in the race. We stayed out of trouble so we have to be really proud of our performances.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Jack Aitken (UK)
“I think as our pace showed, we were capable of lapping up there with the fastest, and definitely we could have got a podium without the puncture. It was a missed opportunity and, unfortunately, this has quite a familiar feeling in 24 Hour races this season for me. I hope it means that when we have a smooth 24 Hours, we will get the result we deserve. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before things click with us in the Endurance Cup, we have shown fast pace, but we’ve just never had the luck when it counted.”