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Christian's report on a demanding 24-hour race into Spa

Spa, 07-28-2019

It was a real challenge – much greater than we had expected and even more intensive than we had feared – but we mastered it thanks to a strong performance in both dry and extremely wet conditions. After a long battle for the victory, Christian Engelhart drew a positive picture of his performance in this year's 24-hours Spa-Francorchamps event.

Extreme weather conditions at the 71st Total 24 Hours of Spa on the 7,004 kilometer Formula 1 circuit provided a truly stern challenge for all the drivers, but Christian Engelhart and his team mates Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen mastered it brilliantly for the GRT Grasser Racing Team. However, the "big achievement" of a top position – even after leading the race for a long time – came to nothing in the end, nullified by red flags

When heavy rainfall interrupted the 24 hours of the Spa-Francorchamps for several hours around 05:40 on Sunday morning, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO #63 of the GRT Grasser Racing Team was already in first place. Starting from 24th on the grid, Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen had steadily worked their way through the field – and they kept this lead, thanks to exceptional vehicle control and clever tactics in incredibly difficult conditions. After 6 hours, the team was already in second place, and they remained among the top positions until the race was stopped. "It reminded me a little of Daytona, because here in Spa it was at times just as tough as our victory in the USA at the beginning of the year."

Unfortunately, the race was canceled for the trio at a bad time, because the team had not yet completed the mandatory technical pit stop of at least five minutes duration. The red flag meant that the time intervals between the vehicles were canceled – and after the restart at 11:15 there just wasn't enough left on the clock to make up for that lost time – so Christian and his teammates had to be content with 16th place in the overall result.

Christian commented,

"Our thanks to our mechanics, the car was very well prepared, ideal for us in our fight for victory in that tough race. I drove the first triple stint. The track was wet at first, but it dried out. I approached it cautiously though, because you don't win a 24-hour race in the first corner. I got through the field pretty well and we had a great pit stop that enabled us to gain a few more positions. Mirko then took over the car and pushed us even closer to the lead. The weather was changeable, and we constantly swapped tires to match the conditions. My second triple stint went great, and I got us up to second place. We had made all the right strategic decisions up to that point. The third time I was in the car, the rain was torrential. The conditions were among the most difficult I have ever encountered. We were in the lead when the race was stopped – and before that we had always been in the top 5 for two-thirds of the race. However, the red flags came at the worst possible time for us, and the long break denied us the chance to make up the lost time. We had to drive really aggressively throughout the remaining hours to get back to the front. We tried gambling with different tires, but unfortunately it didn't pay off. Still, I'm proud of the team. Everyone gave 100%. We were really fast on the track and we fought long for the victory."