Bittersweet weekend for GRT in the ADAC GT Masters at the Red Bull Ring. From 22 to 24 September, the Lamborghini Team from Styria competed in their home fixture in front of 45,000 spectators at the legendary Grand Prix circuit in Austria. On Saturday, the squad around team principal Gottfried Grasser celebrated a commanding second victory of the season. However, the joy over the success of Lamborghini Factory Driver Marco Mapelli and Lamborghini Junior Benjamin Hites did not last long. The driver duo of the #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 was subsequently taken out of the classification due to an unfortunate rule violation.
Benjamin Hites (CHI) / Marco Mapelli (ITA)
#63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying 1: P1 - Race 1: DSQ
Qualifying 2: P2 - Race 2: P8
For GRT, the weekend at the 4.318 km long Red Bull Ring started according to plan with two second-places in practice. In the first qualifying session, a damp track made for a different challenge but Benjamin Hites mastered the changeable conditions with flying colours. The 24-year-old from Santiago de Chile captured his second pole position of the season with an impressive gap of three tenths of a second. For Grasser Racing, the Lamborghini Junior's strong performance also meant their 20th pole position in the ADAC GT Masters, marking another milestone in the team's successful history.
In the race on Saturday, Hites had things safely under control as well. From first place on the grid, he controlled the action at the front and built up a lead of over three seconds over the driver in second position. On lap 22, he handed the car over to Marco Mapelli during the mandatory driver change. The 36-year-old continued to manage the lead in the second stint and crossed the finish line as the winner after 41 laps. However, the joy over GRT's 14th victory in the ADAC GT Masters was dampened late in the evening. After the car made it to the finish line and to the Parc Ferme without any problems, the scrutineering revealed that the amount of fuel remaining in the tank was not sufficient according to the regulations. The result was an exclusion from the classification.
On Sunday, Mapelli again gave the team a promising starting position as second in qualifying. The second race over the distance of 60 minutes plus one lap was jinxed from the start. Immediately before the start, the sky opened its floodgates and forced the teams to change to wet tyres. The rain increased in the first half of the race and Mapelli was also slowed down by technical difficulties. The Italian nevertheless held his ground in the battle for the Top 5, but during the driver change the team lost additional time due to an attempt to fix the issue. In the second stint, the problem persisted, which meant that Hites had to settle for eight place.
Benjamin Hites: "The weekend got off to a fantastic start, but then things went downhill for us. We had a great car and I was really happy about the pole position. In the first race we were in control at the front and it was really disappointing to lose the win afterwards. In the second race we were without a chance due to a problem right from the start. At the pit stop we tried to fix it, but it was not possible. So much more would have been possible at the Red Bull Ring, but unfortunately luck was not on our side."
Marco Mapelli: "Benja did a great job on Saturday and I took over the car with a good lead. I had to be a bit careful with the tyres because we had a very heavy car due to the Balance of Performance and the success ballast from Sachsenring. But our pace was fast enough so I didn't have to take any risks with the tyres. I was very happy when we took the win for GRT. The team works really hard and has not had an easy year. It's a shame that we lost a deserved result like that."
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: "The team delivered a perfect performance on Saturday. The setup was on point and Benja and Marco were fantastic. It is very frustrating that we were denied the win. We started with a full tank of fuel and that's all we can do. According to the regulations, there must be two kilograms of fuel left on board after the race, and we were 240 grams short in the tank afterwards. Rules are rules, but it is sad that we lost the victory for this reason, because this amount of fuel made absolutely no difference on the race track. On Sunday, we had a loss of power right from the first lap, which meant that nothing more was possible. We will analyse this problem and give everything at the Hockenheimring to finish the season on a high with a strong weekend."