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Emil Frey Racing begins GT Masters adventure with pole position and podium finish

  • Perera claims pole position on team’s first ever qualifying session in championship
  • #19 takes strong second place in opening race; #14 takes Junior Trophy podium
  • Aitken and Costa Balboa take top five in competitive Race 2

Oschersleben (Germany), April 24th 2022

Emil Frey Racing enjoyed a positive start to its maiden ADAC GT Masters campaign at Oschersleben, scoring valuable points for both the overall and Junior Trophy championships.

Franck Perera kicked things off in perfect fashion for the team on Saturday by taking pole position – and three championship points – in the #19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO before claiming a well-earned second place alongside team-mate Arthur Rougier in the first of two one-hour races.

The #14 car of Mick Wishofer and Konsta Lappalainen also took a podium in race one with third place in the Junior Trophy class. Albert Costa Balboa and Jack Aitken then took the #63 car to fifth place in a highly competitive second race, as well as setting the fastest lap.

The weekend began with free practice on Friday morning, which was held in wet conditions. The team, therefore, took a cautious approach to the session and waited for the track to dry out before setting lap-times. Jack Aitken and Albert Costa Balboa took the #63 Huracán to the sixth fastest time in the session, just under four-tenths slower than the top of the table.

The drivers of all three crews reported a positive feel with the car, with the baseline setup established in the pre-event test on Thursday working well. Things went better in the second session, with Wishofer and Lappalainen setting the second fastest time in the #14 car, two places ahead of Aitken/Costa Balboa.

Saturday Summary

Qualifying 1
Saturday morning’s first qualifying session set the grid for Race 1 and all three Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis were in the mix, with Perera taking pole position with a time of 1m21.688, two-tenths quicker than the second-placed car. Wishofer was fifth quickest – and third in the Junior Trophy class – while Aitken was left somewhat frustrated with seventh, after encountering traffic on his fast laps.

Race 1
Perera led from the rolling start to assume the lead on the run towards the first corner and held this advantage despite a near-miss with a Porsche, which overshot the turn and went through the gravel. The #19 was comfortable at the front of the field, opening up a lead of nearly four seconds approaching the mandatory driver-change pit-stop window. The #19 Lamborghini successfully crossed the finish line in second place.

However, the opening segment of the race was difficult for Aitken, who suffered a snap of oversteer at the triple-apex turn four which forced the #63 through the gravel trap, dropping him to the back of the field. Despite struggling with both oversteer and understeer during his stint, Aitken made progress before the pit-stops and swapped with Costa Balboa. Unfortunately, the #63 suffered another off-track excursion late in the race and finished 19th.

Wishofer and Lappalainen took a deserved Junior Trophy podium with seventh overall with #14 Lamborghini after a promising start to the race in which Wishofer fought hard inside the top five. The Austrian, on his EFR debut, muscled his way ahead of the #48 Mercedes at turn two but was forced to hand the position back after small contact. Lappalainen fell behind Raffaele Marciello after the stops, eventually finishing seventh after a brief spin in the closing stages.

Sunday Summary

Qualifying 2
For the second qualifying on Sunday morning, the aim for all three EFR Huracáns was to avoid the sort of traffic which affected the first session. Costa Balboa was the highest placed in the #63, taking the fourth quickest time, with Lappalainen just outside the top 10 in 11th place. Despite setting the early pace in the #19 car, Rougier could only manage 14th on the grid for the second race.

Race 2
Off the start, Costa Balboa maintained his fourth place into turn one but dropped to fifth by the end of the opening lap. Further back, Rougier moved up two places to run 12th early on, while Lappalainen dropped three places to 14th. Despite losing a position, Costa Balboa showed promising pace in the first stint, setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:24.060, but couldn’t find a way past the #20 BMW. The order remained the same until the pit-stop window, where Costa Balboa swapped with Aitken for the second half of the race. Unfortunately, Aitken lost time in the pit-stop as the team had to wait until the pit-lane was clear before releasing the #63 Huracán. He temporarily dropped to sixth, but fought back immediately, passing the #29 Audi on the entry to turn one to reclaim fifth. He made the most of a battle in front of him to challenge for a podium towards the end, but the British driver had to settle for a top five finish at the end.

Wishofer and Lappalainen delivered an impressive drive to finish 11th overall and seventh in the Junior Trophy, despite having to serve a penalty after the pit-stop. The #14 car’s pit-stop time was fractionally under the minimum 70-seconds required and had to drive through the penalty box on the exit of turn three at reduced pace. The #19 car in the hands of Rougier and Perera finished 13th after an up-and-down race. Rougier was battling the #22 Porsche but lost a position before the stops. Perera took over for the second stint but was passed by Wishofer, who had a quicker car at that point of the race. Post-race, the #22 Porsche was handed a penalty which moved the #19 back up a position, as a result of the earlier contact between the two cars.

Team quotes

Jürg Flach, Technical Director
“Overall, the race weekend was really satisfactory, it was the first time being in the GT Masters and finishing second in the first race and then fifth in race two was a very good achievement, I think. It gives us valuable points. For sure, it is a learning curve, we still need to work on the peak performance of the tyres, the overall tyre management during the race, but I am optimistic that we can further improve. Now, with the Red Bull Ring in front of us, it is a track that we already know and I’m very optimistic that we can continue the good performance that we showed here this weekend.”

Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #14

Mick Wishofer (AUS)
“For race one, we were a bit unlucky in qualifying as I believe we could have finished P3, instead we were P5. Then at the start, I dropped one or two positions because I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I gained them back quite quickly. I handed over the car to Konsta in P5 and he did a very good job to bring the car home in P7 overall and P3 in the Junior class. We saw that the potential was there. Race two start was quite chilled, quite OK but then we had a small mistake [in the pits], we don’t know yet why, but we lost one position and some seconds to the group in front of us with the penalty. The speed was not too bad today, so we gained some positions back. So, now I am looking forward to my home race at the Red Bull Ring next time.

Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #19

Arthur Rougier (FRA)
“After the strong second place of race one, today was a tough day for sure. We didn’t have an ideal qualifying in P14, and then it’s just hard to overtake on this track. The pace was not so mega in my stint, so we need to analyse for next time what was going wrong for us. The championship is long, so we’ll come back stronger.”

Driver quote Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63

Albert Costa Balboa (SPA)
“Today it was important to score points after yesterday where we had some bad luck and didn’t score anything. Qualifying went well, unfortunately I went into the gravel a little on my last lap and missed P2 by almost nothing, but P4 was good. Then in the race, I lost a place at the start because of the monster BMW on the straights but, in the end, we did the fastest lap of the race and I think we were quite competitive. The way we started the championship, this is the most important thing for us. We need to keep working as we did today, so we are quite positive and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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