Successful return from the summer break for Grasser Racing in the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring. After two months, Benjamin Hites and Marco Mapelli got back behind the wheel of the number 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 in front of 42,000 spectators last weekend from 8 to 10 September. The fourth stop in the league of super sports cars was once again a success for the GRT duo in sunshine weather. In the second qualifying session, Mapelli set the fastest time and thus laid the foundation for another podium. After an intense race, he and Hites celebrated second place on Sunday.
In the Eifel mountains, the pairing had left for the summer break on the back of their first win of the season. At the Sachsenring, they continued exactly where they had left off eight weeks earlier. They confirmed their strong form on Friday with the fastest time in the second practice session and Hites set the pace in the first qualifying session on the iconic 3.645 km long circuit as well. The 24-year-old from Santiago de Chile put GRT's Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 second on the grid on Saturday morning, narrowly missing out on his second pole position in the ADAC GT Masters.
In the first race over 60 minutes plus one lap, Hites held second place in commanding fashion until the pit stop on lap 23. Mapelli continued on course for the podium after the driver change, but was stopped by a puncture at the right rear on lap 31. The 36-year-old Lamborghini factory driver made it back to the pits, but fell behind due to the unscheduled pit stop. After 44 laps he saw the chequered flag in seventh place and the fighting spirit paid off. Despite the unfortunate race, Mapelli and Hites secured ten valuable championship points.
On Sunday, Mapelli drove to an impressive pole position in the second qualifying session, but the joy for GRT's 19th pole in the ADAC GT Masters did not last long. The Italian inadvertently impeded another driver in qualifying, for which a grid penalty was imposed on him and he had to slot into fourth place on the grid for race two. However, the veteran did not let it distract him. By the time of the driver change on lap 25, he had fought his way back to third position. Hites fought off the competition in an intense second stint and was flagged off in second place after 45 laps.
The podium earned GRT 20 more points in the championship, which puts the Lamborghini Squadra Corse supported team in fourth place in the team standings. Hites and Mapelli are tied for third in the driver standings. With two race weekends still to go, Grasser Racing still has a chance to have a say in the fight for the title. The next round of the ADAC GT Masters will take place at the team's DTM home fixture from 22 to 24 September at the Red Bull Ring.
Benjamin Hites (CHI) / Marco Mapelli (ITA)
#63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying 1: P2 - Race 1: P7
Qualifying 2: P1 - Race 2: P2
Benjamin Hites: "I had to be very careful with the rear tyres in the second race at the end. I had a gap to the car behind and could manage the pace. When they started to catch up, I picked up the pace again and hoped that the tyre would last. It wasn't easy because I had hardly any grip left, but it worked and we are definitely happy with second place. These are important points for the championship and with this result we have fulfilled our duty after things didn't go our way on Saturday."
Marco Mapelli: "We got the maximum out of Sunday. Due to the puncture on the previous day, we had to adjust the set-up a lot compared to the first race. The Sachsenring has always been critical in this respect, as we saw again in the second race with the competition. Starting from pole would certainly have been helpful, because then we could have managed the pace at the front. Due to the penalty, we had to be a bit more aggressive, but it worked and we are happy with the podium."
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: "We had a test day at the Sachsenring for the ADAC GT Masters, but the conditions were much warmer on the race weekend. With these temperatures, we struggled a bit with the tyre performance over the race distance of one hour. As a result, the balance of the car was not perfect and on Saturday we also had 20 kilograms of success ballast in the car from our victory at the Nürburgring. The puncture was frustrating, but we drew the right conclusions for Sunday and it went really well with pole position and second place. Marco drove a great lap in qualifying and Benja did a great job of managing the pace in the second stint to secure the result."