Second win of the season for Grasser Racing at the penultimate stop of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. The Austrian Lamborghini Team completed their next successful appearance at the infamous Nürburgring last weekend from 28 to 30 July. After winning there with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 in the ADAC GT Masters a fortnight ago, the team followed up with another triumph in the high-calibre endurance championship of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe. Clemens Schmid, Glenn van Berlo and Benjamin Hites mastered the turbulent weather conditions in the #85 entry. They took pole position and victory in the Silver Cup to further extend Grasser Racing's lead in the standings.
Following their class victory at the prestigious CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, Team Principal Gottfried Grasser's squad travelled to the Eifel mountains for the fourth round of this year's Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup as Silver Cup leaders. There, the Grand Prix layout of the Nürburgring familiar from Formula 1 awaited them, including the typical weather of the region. Temperatures of just under 20 degrees Celsius and mixed conditions made the race weekend on the 5.137 km long circuit a tricky task.
GRT showed in dry conditions on Saturday that crew and drivers had done their homework. In Pre-Qualifying, the team's two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 cars finished first and second in the Silver Cup, ranking fifth and seventh overall among the 54 GT3 cars. Qualifying took place on Sunday morning in pouring rain. Clemens Schmid, Benjamin Hites and Glenn van Berlo kept the upper hand in the three-part session and put the #85 car on pole in the Silver Cup. Gerhard Tweraser, Sam Neary and Fabrizio Crestani started eighth in class, but the trio in the sister car already fell behind in qualifying due to bad luck with traffic and a collision through no fault of their own.
By the start of the race the track had dried and just like in the ADAC GT Masters, GRT showed that their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 works perfectly on the Nürburgring in these conditions. With an impeccable performance, Benjamin Hites maintained the lead in the Silver Cup in the fiercely contested first hour and thus laid the foundation for success. The Chilean handed over car number 85 to Clemens Schmid for the second stint. With the third fastest lap of the race, he extended the lead over the competition to ten seconds. The Austrian came in for the last pit stop one hour before the end with Glenn van Berlo getting behind the wheel. The Dutchman did not allow himself to be denied the class victory in the closing stages and secured the result.
Their teammates though were denied the deserved top result after they had shown a strong start into the race as well. Tweraser made a brilliant recovery in the first stint and made up 14 positions within a quarter of an hour, but was involved in a collision shortly afterwards through no fault of his own. The resulting puncture put him and his team-mates two laps behind. After this setback, the crew of car number 58 once again showed fighting spirit. With a strong pace, Tweraser, Neary and Crestani completed the race distance and saw the chequered flag in eighth place in the Silver Cup.
GRT extended their lead in the Silver Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup with the second victory of the season. Before the finale at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya, the Lamborghini Squadra Corse supported team is 18 points ahead of their first rival in the championship standings. In the driver classification, Clemens Schmid, Glenn van Berlo and Benjamin Hites have moved to the top and are five points ahead of the runners-up. Before the showdown on the Spanish Grand Prix circuit, however, Grasser Racing still have a summer packed with DTM action ahead of them. There, it's back to the Nürburgring next weekend for the fourth round of the year.
Clemens Schmid (AUT) / Glenn van Berlo (NED) / Benjamin Hites (CHI)
#85 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying: P1 - Race: P1
Clemens Schmid: "It was a perfect weekend for us. We had a very good preparation and it showed from the first session. Our car was competitive in all conditions and the balance was great. We set some of the fastest lap times in the field in the race and the class win feels really deserved. The whole team really delivered this weekend. A big thank you to the crew and my teammates. The guys did a mega job."
Glenn van Berlo: "Clemens and Benja showed great performances in the first two stints. After I got in, it was pretty hectic on the track. I was driving behind a BMW and lost quite a bit of pace, but the team told me on the radio to just manage it and bring it home. That's what I did and I'm really happy with the win. The car was really good. Thanks to GRT, Lamborghini and my teammates for this great result."
Benjamin Hites: "The conditions were really difficult in qualifying. To get pole position in these circumstances was enormously important. We were able to manage the race well with this starting position and achieved our goal in the end. The car was perfect and we held our own against our direct competitors on the track. The victory and the lead in the overall standings are the best starting position for the finale in Barcelona. This success is for Chile, my fans and my fantastic team at GRT."
Fabrizio Crestani (ITA) / Sam Neary (GBR) / Gerhard Tweraser (AUT)
#58 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2
Qualifying: P8 - Race: P8
Sam Neary: "It was a real shame that Gerhard was taken out only 15 Minutes into the race. We lost three laps in the end because of this incident. It still was a great pleasure to drive the car. In my stint I was stuck in traffic over a quite a period of time but once I was in free air the laptimes were pretty good. I was matching the pace of the front runners on my last laps before the driver change and the balance was amazing. Thanks to the whole team for the great work again this weekend. I love driving this car and I hope luck will be on our side in Barcelona."
Gerhard Tweraser: "Qualifying was difficult because of the heavy rain and I was constantly stuck in traffic in Q1. I couldn't get into my rhythm and unfortunately I made a mistake on my last lap. But we knew we were competitive in the dry and were optimistic for the race. I pushed from the start in the first stint until I ran into a competitor who was defending hard. In this battle I was hit from behind when turning into the corner, which damaged the tyre. That cost us the chance of a Silver Cup podium. It hurts, but that's racing. Hopefully we'll have a bit more luck in Barcelona."
Gottfried Grasser, Team Principal of GRT: "We knew from the ADAC GT Masters that the Nürburgring suits us well and quickly found the optimum set-up in these difficult conditions. Only the qualifying didn't go quite as we planned. Due to traffic and incidents, the grid positions were not as good as they could have been. That made life a bit more difficult for us in the race, but the pace was great once again. Clemens was absolutely on par with the front runners with his fastest lap and we reeled off our rhythm without taking any risks. It was important for us to win the Silver Cup and defend our lead in the overall standings. We achieved this goal with our #85 crew. On the other hand, it was a pity for the sister car. They also had the pace for the podium and did everything right in the early stages. The collision decided their race and they could do nothing about it. I really wish for them to still get the result they deserve this season. To win the title, we will need another strong weekend in Barcelona. The lead in the championship is not too big and we need to be back at the front with both cars in the Silver Cup at the last round."