Orange1 Team GRT’s 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe campaign ends with two podiums

Orange1 Team GRT concluded their 2019 season in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe with two Top Three results at the Hungaroring. Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart driving the number 63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO came third in the Saturday race and were then runners-up on Sunday. The duo therefore finish the season in fourth place on 75 points. And it was a similar result in the team championship where GRT Grasser Racing also finished fourth.

The 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe may have finished, but the grand finale to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup is still to come. The last event on the calendar is scheduled for the weekend of 27th – 29th September at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Before then, however, the team has another engagement in its diary, namely the ADAC GT Masters at Hockenheim (13th – 15th September).

Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 (Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart)
Qualifying 1: P3 – Race 1: P3
Qualifying 2: P2 – Race 2: P2

Bortolotti booked a promising grid position on Saturday with a P3 in the first quali. The race was contested in the afternoon on a wet track and was led off by the safety car. After approximately eight minutes, the stewards gave the all-clear. Bortolotti overtook the second-placed car and began to pull out a gap. The team opted for a late pit stop. This once again went quickly and without a hitch, enabling Engelhart to close in on the race leader. However, he now had the third-placed car hot on his heels. A battle for position extending over several laps culminated in a minor collision, and on the final lap, the opponent got the better of Engelhart to drop him down to third at the finish line.

In his qualifying session on Saturday, Engelhart missed out on pole by a slender 0.092-second margin. He launched into the race with a determined challenge on the pole-sitter but was unable to get past. An early safety car deployment robbed Engelhart of the opportunity to mount further attacks during the stint. He then came in shortly after the pit stop window opened. Following the change of driver, Bortolotti successfully defended second place against two opponents.

Mirko Bortolotti: “We got everything we could out of the Saturday race and are therefore happy with third place. The battle with Luca Stolz was fun. After I got past him, I had the same pace as the leader, which meant I was unable to close the gap. Our pit stop crew once again did a great job. We wanted to get race wins this season, but unfortunately, that didn’t work out on Sunday. We were unlucky at the beginning of the season, but then we came second on several occasions. Anyway, we are generally satisfied. A big thank you to the team. I’m proud of the guys; they did an incredible job.”

Christian Engelhart: “It was a great race on Saturday. Mirko had a superb stint with a great overtaking move. In my stint, I initially thought that I had enough pace to catch up with the leader, but the track was no longer quite as wet as expected. I had a fight on my hands in the last few minutes; it would have been nice if the race had been a lap shorter. The Sunday race was a thriller too. I had the chance to take the lead at the start, but the pole-sitter in the Mercedes had good pace. I gave it everything I’d got, and I had a perfect car. With two podiums, though, we are leaving Budapest feeling happy.”

Team boss Gottfried Grasser: “The weekend went very well. With these two podiums, we got the maximum out of the situation. We had two superb qualifying sessions. In Mirko’s case, we could have got even more out of the session if he had just had an open track on his second run. The Saturday race went well – we almost finished second. Unfortunately, we couldn’t match the pace of the leader on Sunday, but we are satisfied with second place. The two podium finishes are a good way to round off the season.”