This external link is not available in presentation mode.

To the top


Engelhart and Bortolotti in the season opener in the ADAC GT Masters – and experience a lot of drama

Oschersleben, 04-28-2019

A burst tire, crash, technical defect, pole position, tire damage again, a measurement error in the official timekeeping, and an unjustified drive-through penalty followed by an apology by the stewards – and all of that in just three days. The new ADAC GT Masters season could not have got off to a more dramatic start for Christian Engelhart, Mirko Bortolotti and the Grasser Racing Team.

For Christian and Mirko in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, the opening event in the ADAC GT Masters was packed with all the emotions motor racing has to offer. Right in the first free training, a burst tire after just five laps led to an accident and extensive repairs that meant the first hours of additional work for the team.

The GRT crew gave its all and was able to get the number 63 ready for the second free training. “That was very important for us in many respects. First, you need every minute you can get on the track to fine tune things when you’re up against a tightly bunched field with so many title candidates. Second, it’s important mentally to put such an incident so early in the weekend behind you – for us pilots and for the entire crew in the background.”

Hard work rewarded with 6th place in the first qualifying

In the first qualifying, Christian was then able to directly capture 6th spot with a very good lap and demonstrate that, thanks to hard and meticulous work, the Lamborghini was competitive again – that was the maximum possible given the car’s disadvantage in terms of top speed in dry conditions. The subsequent first race of the season also began very well for Christian. The Bavarian pilot was able to move up into fifth right at the start. However, the team suffered a setback just before change of pilots, when a technical defect forced the GRT team to retire the car.

After the team had recovered from this second setback, Mirko Bortolotti – Christian’s teammate this ADAC GT Masters season – captured pole position for the second race in the “league of super sports cars” in a rainy second qualifying. “That was really a monumental performance by Mirko. He was able to get the full performance and more out of the car in the rain and give us an excellent starting position for the race itself.”

From pole to zero points due to a measurement error by the stewards

The duo Engelhart / Bortolotti started from pole on the grid and Mirko was able to hold on to that position in the first half of the race in the face of very great pressure from the competition. A slow puncture meant that a tire had to be changed as well when Mirko handed over to Christian while still in the lead. However, the rules in the ADAC GT Masters state that the minimum pit stop is extended by 10 seconds to change a damaged tire.

Despite this new setback, Christian was able to rejoin the race in a promising position and contend for 7th place – when the stewards suddenly imposed a penalty, allegedly because the pit stop took less than the required minimum duration. Christian then completed the drive-through penalty, which however proved to be incorrect: The stewards apologized to the GRT Grasser Racing Team after the race, citing a measurement error in timekeeping at the pit lane entrance line as the reason. Since the drive-through penalty had already been completed, it could not be revoked.

“Mistakes happen everywhere. Still, this one was extremely bitter and annoying for us. Of course, we accept the stewards’ apology. However, it is a decision of a judge of fact that did not mean any subsequent changes to the result, so that doesn’t help us in the title fight. The points we could have picked up are lost for good – and that’s simply incredibly tough to grasp after this weekend, where we fought our way back into contention several times and were making good headway before the drive-through penalty and despite the tire damage. But that’s how things turned out. We hope and will work hard to make sure that we have the racing gods on our side again in the course of the season.”