Mirko Bortolotti believes that being part of an all-factory driver lineup in the Blancpain GT Series this season puts he and Lamborghini in a better position to fight for the overall title.
The Italian driver says that having two new co-drivers this season was fundamental in winning the opening Endurance Cup round at Monza last weekend.
“It feels amazing because this is a win that everybody wanted,” Bortolotti told Sportscar365. “It’s always very important to have a strong race when you’re racing on home soil, both for yourself and obviously for the factory as well.
“It’s very important to start the season well, because we expect a lot from this season and we have high expectations.”
He explains that Lamborghini Squadra Corse’s choice to pair him with newly minted works drivers Christian Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli in the No. 63 Grasser Racing Team car was made with the main aim of winning the overall title this season.
“In our car, Lamborghini decided to have three factory drivers in a Pro lineup in order to go for a title attack, and this is our main goal for this year,” he said.
“We will try to be as far out front as possible to be able to fight for the title at the end.
“We’re not only looking at the Monza race now, but also looking at the entire championship, which is the absolute priority for Lamborghini.”
Along with Grasser Racing Team’s new lineup, a new-for-2017 front tire specification has also helped the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 to take the first win of the Endurance Cup season, Bortolotti adds.
Pirelli came out with a new front tire ahead of this season, which has made the Lamborghini front tire slightly narrower but with a larger profile.
“We came to the conclusion that on the Lamborghini side we were running a different front tire compared to Audi, for example,” he explained. “This was a decision taken back in 2014 so we had to carry that in 2015 and 2016.
“We were running a lower shoulder on the front compared to Audi, and in some races this was a disadvantage, especially in warmer races in terms of temperature.
“We are now running exactly the same tire size on the front as the Audi R8 LMS. This was the difference compared to last year.
“We had a 325/660 tire, but the Audi spec was a 315/680. This year, Pirelli changed the front tire completely, so it’s now a 325/680 for both us, Audi and several other GT3 cars.”
The new tire size was the main change made to the car over the off-season, Bortolotti explains, and he expects it to help the performance of Huracán GT3 compared to its rivals.
“I was involved in a lot of testing this winter in order to adapt our car, and we were used to the old-spec tire we had after three years with it, so it was a big change to get a different front tire,” he said.
“Once we took the decision on the front tire, we started testing in order to get a lot of data for both the new tires and especially the long-run balance, performance and degradation.”
Lamborghini rolled out the Huracán GT3 in 2015 with a two-car program run by Grasser, before expanding to sell more than 50 cars to customer teams worldwide last year.
The large-scale customer program has been very successful, Bortolotti says, as all teams running the Huracán GT3 work closely with the manufacturer to help develop the car.
“We have strong opponents because we are not the only car on the grid. We have several other Lamborghinis,” he said. “We get the same amount of support from the factory as the other teams, so there is not a privileged car from Lamborghini Squadra Corse’s side.
“If we find something that can make the car more consistent or more quicker, this is something we share with all teams to make sure that all the customers and drivers are happy with the package at their disposal.
“For us it’s a privilege and an honor to see so many cars on the grid. It’s the result of hard work and that means that we’ve done something right since we started this project.”