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Emil Frey Racing celebrates first podium finish at Sprint Cup 2023 in Misano

Misano – Italy, 16th July 2023

Emil Frey Racing secured the first podium result of the season at the second round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS Sprint Cup at the Misano Circuit. With second place, the number 14 Ferrari 296 GT3 celebrated a great result that particularly pleased Giacomo Altoé at his home race. In a persistent heat wave, the team otherwise struggled with a few problems, but thanks to faultless driving by all drivers, the team secured valuable points for the championship standings in both races.

Race 1 I Saturday, 15th July 2023:

The Emil Frey Racing drivers once again proved the potential of the new Ferrari 296 GT3 in the first qualifying session early on Saturday morning. After Brands Hatch, it was already the second time that Giacomo Altoé (#14) would start the race from second place on the front row – and that at his home race. In the sister car, Albert Costa Balboa set a solid starting point for a promising race with the ninth fastest time.

Giacomo Altoé had a good start into the first 60-minute race of the weekend and maintained second place. Team-mate Albert Costa Balboa had a lucky escape avoiding the starting accident directly in front of him, and settled into seventh place. After a good pace for many laps, the team decided to make an early pit stop on lap 17 to take full advantage of the new tyres. However, they lost valuable seconds due to traffic on the track and in the pit lane. But despite all this, they gained a position, and Thierry Vermeulen rejoined the race from 6th on the grid in the #69 Ferrari 296 GT3.

Giacomo Altoé came in with the leading #88 Mercedes for the obligatory pit stop three laps later. Konsta Lappalainen took over the wheel of the #14 and retained second place without difficulty. While Konsta Lappalainen had a quiet stint and drove the race home in a controlled manner, the sister car had a tough time in the final phase. In fourth place, Thierry Vermeulen was in for a thrilling three-way battle, and the #32 BMW of Dries Vanthoor came dangerously close from behind. With five minutes to go until the race finish, the #12 Audi, the #69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari and the #32 BMW were nose-to-tail. On the long straight, the BMW passed Thierry Vermeulen’s Ferrari. The battle between the BMW and Audi caused both competitors to lose valuable time, allowing Thierry Vermeulen to catch up again and close the gap. The BMW eventually snatched third place, but on the final laps, Thierry Vermeulen was only 0.3 seconds behind the #12 Audi and fighting for fourth position. In the end, it was a good fifth place despite all efforts.

Konsta Lappalainen finished the race in an excellent second place, securing the first podium result of the year for Emil Frey Racing.

Race 2 I Sunday, 16th July 2023:

Konsta Lappalainen in the #14 Ferrari started the second race from fourth position. The sister car with Thierry Vermeulen at the wheel started the one-hour race from seventh position.

Unfortunately, Konsta Lappalainen lost a position at the start. At the same time, Thierry Vermeulen gained a place – so both Emil Frey Racing Ferraris drove in formation until lap 11 when a Full-Course-Yellow-Phase was called after an accident of the #9 Audi. Shortly afterwards, however, the Safety-Car was deployed as the damage to the tyre wall was considerably greater than expected.

The team first brought in the #14 for an early pit stop, with the #69 following two laps later on lap 17. Unfortunately, they lost valuable seconds again today on both pit stops.

After all pit stops had been completed, the order was restored, and home-hero Giacomo Altoé set the fastest first sector of the race up until then, right at the beginning of his stint in 5th place. Team-mate Albert Costa Balboa followed closely in sixth place, and an internal team duel was brewing. However, the Spaniard had the better pace and passed the #14 sister car on lap 29 to take over 4th position. At the end of the race, Giacomo Altoé came under great pressure from yesterday’s race winner, the #88 Mercedes, which was close on the Ferrari’s heels and took fifth position in a fair maneuver. The #69 was given a 5-second time penalty due to Albert Costa Balboa for exceeding the track limits several times – which cost the #69 a place and was classified in 5th position in the end. 

The Emil Frey Racing Ferraris finished the race on Sunday in fifth (#69) and sixth (#14).

Team Quotes Emil Frey Racing

Jürg Flach, Technical Director:

“After Norisring, the weekend in Misano was very positive. We had already been able to complete test days here and therefore arrived very well-prepared. The very twisty track suited the Ferrari well. We were competitive in all sectors, which we could not only show in the qualifying sessions, but the podium result on Saturday also proved that. Unfortunately, we still struggle with understeering, especially during the race pace. We need to work on that for the coming races.”

Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal

“Of course, you always want to be further ahead in every race, but considering that we still have a few problems with the cars that are still new to us, we are generally very happy with this weekend. On free runs, like in qualifying, we are very competitive. But in the race, we are struggling with some understeering, which is particularly noticeable in a heat battle like here in Misano, where the tyres are put under additional strain and which makes overtaking more difficult for us. Unfortunately, the pit stops were yet again not perfect, and we lost valuable time. We must work on that for the upcoming races because we could have gotten more out of it on average. But if you put all the conditions together, we still had a successful weekend with points in both races, the drivers didn’t make any mistakes, and we can build on that basis.”

Driver Quotes Ferrari 296 GT3 #14

Giacomo Altoé (Italy):
“I was really excited to race here in Misano as it is my home race. We were already able to show a good performance in qualifying at Brands Hatch, we couldn’t quite fix the pit stop problems here at Misano, but still, the whole team did a great job and deserves the first podium result of the year.”

Konsta Lappalainen (Finland):

“Giacomo did an excellent stint, and after the pit stop, we came out second. After that, it wasn’t about overtaking the Mercedes in front of us. It was about bringing the car home in second place without pushing too hard and bringing it home safely. I think the whole team did a great job this weekend.”

Driver Quotes Ferrari 296 GT3 #69

Albert Costa Balboa (Spain):

“The start of the first race on Saturday was quite turbulent. I just saw two cars sliding and going in the wrong direction. Then I braked a bit not to get too close and overtook them, and that was the right decision because I avoided contact and overtook one car. I’m very happy with fifth place on Sunday.”

Thierry Vermeulen (The Netherlands):

“Generally, we can be positive and happy as a team because we arrived here from a difficult DTM weekend at the Norisring where we really struggled. The main goal here in Misano was to get the car back the way we wanted and take a step forward. And that’s exactly what we did, and we succeeded. We were quite happy with qualifying because we knew we had a good race car. So, we are very happy with two fifth places. Congratulations to #14 for the first podium of the year.”

Maria-Alejandra Rüeger
Emil Frey Racing
Schürmattstrasse, CH-5745 Safenwil
T: +41 (0) 79 567 25 18

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