Emil Frey Racing wins GT World Challenge Europe Silver Cup class at Hockenheim
- Lappalainen, White and Wishofer take first victory together in the #14
- Puncture and pit-stop issue and prevents near-certain podium for #63
- #19 fights back after opening lap drama
Hockenheimring (Germany), September 04th, 2022
Emil Frey Racing claimed a superb Silver Cup class victory in the hands of Konsta Lappalainen, Stuart White and Mick Wishofer in the penultimate round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup to boost its top three aspirations.
The #14 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo finished in seventh place overall, just one place behind the #63 Pro entry of Jack Aitken, Albert Costa Balboa and Mirko Bortolotti, which produced a similarly sensational recovery after early trouble.
Léo Roussel, Giacomo Altoè and Arthur Rougier also fought back after an early setback, finishing a respectable 14th.
Elsewhere, Rougier took a hard-earned fifth overall place finish in the Fanatec Esports Pro Series which took place in the paddock on Saturday evening. The Frenchman qualified second overall – and first in the Pro class – around the virtual Suzuka and fought for a podium throughout the one-hour race. He eventually settled for fifth overall at the end, collecting more valuable real-world points for the team.
Heavy rain dominated the morning’s 90-minute free practice, with standing water and aquaplaning providing major challenges for all three crews. Into the final hour, the rain did begin to ease and, although not dry, a clear racing line also appeared. Despite the difficult conditions, all three cars produced strong pace, as Aitken and Costa Balboa set fastest sector times. The #63 finished the session – which was red flagged with five minutes remaining – third quickest, with the #19 ending up 12th. The #14 was 17th overall and fourth in the Silver Cup class.
Conditions improved greatly for the afternoon’s Pre-Qualifying session, and gave the team the opportunity to conduct productive race simulations on each car. All three crews managed well over 30 laps, with the #63 completing a total of 43 during the session. The long-run pace of the #63 was particularly encouraging, while the outright speed of the #19 was shown as Rougier’s best lap-time had been good enough for fifth place before it was deleted for track limits. The highest-place car was that of the #14, which finished 12th overall after completing 40 laps.
With 49 cars on track, traffic played a big role in the three-part qualifying session in the morning, but all three cars made it into the top 20 on the grid for the race. The #63, in the hands of Aitken, managed the joint fourth-fastest time in Q1, while Costa Balboa improved the car’s position to third in the combined times. Bortolotti drove in Q3 and solidified third on the starting grid. For the #14, Lappalainen produced a sensational lap in Q1 to go seventh overall, with Wishofer and White ensuring a superb 12th overall and second in Silver Cup. Roussel, Rougier and Altoè were consistent in each session and qualified 16th.
Aitken got a good getaway from the rolling start but was passed by the Audi which went off track at the first corner, meaning the #63 had to settle into fourth place. Behind, Lappalainen made good progress to lead the Silver Cup class, while there was bad luck for Rougier in the #19 as he made contact with the #38 McLaren. The 19 received a 10-second stop-go penalty as a result.
Due to barrier damage and a separate incident for the safety car, the race was neutralised for half an hour. Once action resumed, Aitken was challenging the leaders with strong pace before reporting a tyre vibration towards the end of his stint. The #63 then lost around 25 seconds due to an issue in the pits, with Costa Balboa also encountering a tyre failure in his stint too. That dropped the car down to 20th, but Bortolotti showcased the car’s supreme speed by setting the fastest lap of the race and climbing all the way up to sixth in the final hour.
It was a different story altogether for the #14, which was at the front throughout. Having shone in qualifying, Lappalainen handed over to White in sixth place, with the South African on the cusp of the overall podium during his stint. Wishofer took over and consolidated the Silver Cup lead, finishing seventh.
After the early penalty, the #19 showed impressive pace for the remainder of the race and completed their recovery drive with a deserved 14th place result.
Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal
“Of course, I am really happy with the victory in Silver Cup today, they did a great job and now they are scoring important points in the championship before the final round. There’s always a strange feeling when one car does well, and you are super happy and super enthusiastic, but then the other cars don’t have the luck, but we can be happy, nonetheless. Jack had a vibration in his stint so we brough him into the pits but there was a miscommunication in the stop, and we had to push the car back to the fuel rig, so we lost time there, and of course the penalty for #19 wasn’t ideal. It’s bittersweet, because this was another weekend where we had a really competitive car on track but not everything fell our way.”
Jürg Flach, Technical Director
“On one hand, we are very happy because the #14 did a very good job. We optimised that race very well and each of the drivers were able to keep in front of the others, especially towards the end. But on the other hand, it’s quite disappointing because the overall performance from the #63 in particular was amazing and for sure, without one of the problems we encountered, we could easily have finished on the podium today. What a recovery, though, from the guys and also from the #19 after the first lap; we can take positives from the pace but in the end we are disappointed.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14
Stuart White (ZAF)
“I don’t think the race could have gone any better for us, really. To finally get everything to work together over the weekend and to get the win in Silver Cup is fantastic, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the whole Emil Frey team. These things become possible if you work hard enough and long enough. I have to thank all my partners and sponsors who have supported me so much. I had some close moments with Winkelhock and Schothorst in the overall but we also had to look after our class position in the end. But for a Junior car to fighting at the front of the overall race really proves how much the team has been improving this year.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19
Léo Roussel (FRA)
“Unfortunately, this is what racing is like. The first lap is always tricky, and Arthur got unlucky, but the pace was there in the car for the rest of the race. After that, it was more like a qualifying race and I really enjoyed my time in the car, trying to fight back towards the front. The car was mega, we could gain back lots of positions but still we were not able to score points. We will try our best at the final round in Barcelona.”
Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63
Mirko Bortolotti (ITA)
“I’m pleased with the performance but not with the result. We deserved more today but we will keep working hard to try and finish the season on a high in Barcelona.”