Champion’s performance and championship title at the season finale of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup in Spain. GRT lived up to their role as favourite in the Silver Cup of the prestigious endurance series in every respect at the last round this past weekend. From 30 September to 1 October, the GT3 elite came together for the showdown at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Austrian Lamborghini Team left no doubt in the fight for the championship with their two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2s. With an undisputed one-two in the 3h race, the squad celebrated the Silver Cup title win and thus the first championship in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe since their overall victory in 2017.
A record field of 54 GT3 cars from seven different manufacturers converged on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, familiar from Formula 1, for the fifth and final battle in this year's Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. For Grasser Racing, the mission was clear arriving as leader in both the team and driver standings of the Silver Cup. The Lamborghini Squadra Corse supported outfit set the course for winning the title in practice and pre-qualifying on the 4.655 km long Grand Prix circuit, but race day was not to be a walk in the park despite flawless preparation.
In the three-part qualifying on Sunday morning, the two GRT driver trios in cars #85 and #58 did a perfect job. With grid positions one and two in the Silver Cup, they ensured the best starting position. However, the 3-hour race presented the team with an enormous challenge with five safety car periods. Already in the first hour, incidents in the field caused three neutralisations. The starting drivers Clemens Schmid and Fabrizio Crestani maintained the lead for GRT in the fiercely contested opening stages and stayed out of trouble. Shortly before the end of the first stint, the number 58 car took over first place from its sister car.
For the second hour, Crestani handed over the leading #58 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 to Tweraser. In a controlled second stint, the Austrian further extended the lead. With the drivers' title in mind, van Berlo in car number 85 followed him with a consistent gap. The lead over the car in third position was already over ten seconds when the last driver change took place with just an hour to go. For Neary and Hites it became exciting once again in the finish. A competitor triggered a long safety car period immediately after the start of the third stint due to an oil leak.
The restart took place with 25 minutes remaining on the clock. The GRT duo again had everything under control, but a rival's accident caused another neutralisation shortly afterwards. Ten minutes before the end, the race was restarted for the last time. In some eventful last laps, the GRT drivers once again proved to have the perfect rhythm. After three hours, car number 58 crossed the finish line as first in the Silver Cup and at the same time as the best-placed Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 in the overall classification. For Crestani, Neary and Tweraser it was the first triumph of the season. Right behind them, Schmid, van Berlo and Hites made their Silver Cup championship title perfect as runners-up in the Silver classification.
The perfect team result gave Grasser Racing the title win in the Silver Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. The squad of team principal Gottfried Grasser made it onto the podium of the Silver Cup in each of the five races with their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 and celebrated three victories in a row, starting with the class win at the legendary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, the triumph at the 3h race at the Nürburgring and the success at the finale in Barcelona. In the team classification of the Silver Cup, GRT distanced their challengers by 32 points. In the drivers' classification, Schmid, van Berlo and Hites prevailed with 16 points.
Clemens Schmid (AUT) / Glenn van Berlo (NED) / Benjamin Hites (CHI)
#85 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying: P1 - Race: P2
Clemens Schmid: "The Silver Cup title was our declared goal and I am very happy that we have fulfilled our mission. We had a fast car throughout the year and fought back superbly after the bad luck in the season opener. In the second half of the campaign we always got the maximum out of it and that's thanks to a strong team performance, which I'm very proud of. The crew did a great job and Benja and Glenn were always on point. That's the only way you can succeed in an endurance series and it just makes this championship feel really good. Many thanks to the whole team and to my partners for the great support this season."
Glenn van Berlo: "I am very happy about the team's one-two. We didn't want to take any risks here and took a controlled approach to the race from the very first moment. The championship title was our top priority and we followed through with our plan. My teammates did an incredible job and I am almost at a loss for words. I am so happy about this championship. A huge thank you to Grasser Racing, my teammates and Lamborghini Squadra Corse."
Benjamin Hites: "Our goal was clear today and my teammates did a great job. I just had to finish the race. It wasn't easy to stay in rhythm because of the many incidents on the track, but our car was perfect and we always had things under control. The one-two for the team is a great finish for this season. I am very happy with the year and to have won my second GT3 title in Europe. We have shown that hard work pays off. Thanks to all my partners and supporters back home in Chile."
Fabrizio Crestani (ITA) / Sam Neary (GBR) / Gerhard Tweraser (AUT)
#58 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying: P2 - Race: P1
Fabrizio Crestani: "I am very happy about this end to the season. We finally got what we deserved. We've had a few setbacks this season and it makes the one-two with the title for our sister car just tastes even better. We couldn't have dreamed of a better ending. Congratulations to Clemens, Benja and Glenn on their success and many thanks to my teammates Sam and Gerhard as well as to our crew. It was a great pleasure and an honour to work with Gottfried and his team this year and to drive the GRT Lamborghini."
Sam Neary: "The whole weekend was amazing. We worked hard on the set-up in practice and our engineer Lukas did a mega job with the race set-up. Our car was just unbelievable in the race, the pace was insane. I felt really good in the car and Fabrizio and Gerhard were absolutely on it as well. We really deserved and needed this win. It was a difficult season but also a great one. I can't thank the whole Grasser Racing crew enough for this. Thanks to Gottfried, Ellie and the whole team. It would be a pleasure to repeat this in the future."
Gerhard Tweraser: "We focused on the long runs in practice and that absolutely paid off. I felt very good in my stint and was able to push straight away without having to push the tyre too hard. The race pace was great and I caught up with the factory drivers towards the end of my stint. In the end, we finished as the best placed Lamborghini and took the class win. I am very proud of this result. We were doing well at Spa and at the Nürburgring, but something always went wrong. This time everything finally went smoothly and I am very happy for the team's success. It was a great pleasure to work with GRT again this year."
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: "One-two in qualifying and race and two titles - a season doesn’t end any better than that. The year was hard work, we really gave everything. This is the toughest GT3 championship in the world and to see the chequered flag in every race, celebrating class victories and representing Lamborghini in the best way, is an achievement that makes us very proud. This success speaks for the fantastic work of the people in our team. A big compliment to our drivers who once again delivered on point here in Barcelona. It was a mega race and the guys had it under control from lights to finish. It’s difficult to put our joy into words after this finale. It means an incredible amount to us to be able to celebrate another championship title in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe. Thank you to all our partners who have always believed in us and supported us to make all this possible, especially Lamborghini Squadra Corse for another year of this fantastic collaboration."