Emil Frey Racing team principal Lorenz Frey-Hilti believes the Swiss outfit is in a position to “make a step forward” with its expanded Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS program with Lamborghini off the back of a tough 2020 season.
Experienced GTWC Europe squad Emil Frey returned to the series last year after winning the 2019 International GT Open title on its debut with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
However, the former Lexus and Jaguar GT3 entrant struggled through an Endurance Cup campaign that heralded only a single top-ten result between its two Pro-class entries.
Its season included a double non-finish at the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring and an eventful Total 24 Hours of Spa where one of its cars placed 16th and the other retired.
The team fared better in Sprint Cup where Lamborghini factory drivers Albert Costa and Giacomo Altoe won two races while the sister car claimed three podiums, but Frey-Hilti suggested that the season as a whole did not live up to expectations.
“Last year was quite challenging, especially in Endurance,” he told Sportscar365.
“We had too many penalties and drive-throughs. We had once, after the [Imola] race, a 30-second penalty. We had four non-finishes, twice technical.
“In the end, we had too many mistakes. For sure, this didn’t help us for the overall championship.
“I think considering the short time we had learning the Pirelli tires, we had a good start at Misano. For sure in the Endurance races… it was really difficult.”
Frey-Hilti said that the team spent much of the off-season finding ways to maximize the Lamborghini package in the context of the SRO Balance of Performance system.
It also bolstered its grid presence with the addition of a third Huracan GT3 Evo and a Silver Cup entry, while its lineup includes a handful of new signings including Williams Formula 1 reserve Jack Aitken and former Sainteloc Racing Audi driver Arthur Rougier.
Its new chassis arrived last month while its winter testing program included a run at Valencia which is new to the Sprint Cup schedule.
“Too many times we couldn’t cross the finish line,” said Frey-Hilti. “We have been really competitive at some tracks, and less so at others. The Lamborghini cars had a new BoP.
“Especially on the rear, the car was quite tricky to handle, and we used the setup which we believed was the fastest because we would have gone out of the BoP range.
“To be in with BoP range and use the full tire potential was impossible. The car got difficult for our drivers to be fast. This is something we really worked on in the winter to find some solutions to make the car easier to perform.
“We have tried to make a lot of improvements. I couldn’t be at the [winter] test days myself with so much going on in the company, but what I saw from the engineers’ and drivers’ feedback, they have been really happy. I think now we can make a step forward.
“I hope this season we will do less mistakes and have no technical issues, as at Spa for example, where we had an issue one and a half hours before the end. These are all things we hope that we don’t have anymore.”
Three Car Effort “Easier” with Single Brand
Frey-Hilti suggested that running three Lamborghinis in GTWC Europe will present a more straightforward task than Emil Frey Racing’s last triple program in the series.
It ran a pair of Lexus RC F GT3s and a single Jaguar GT3 in the full 2018 season.
“There are synergies you can use,” said Frey-Hilti. “We have already run a season with three cars, but it was more complicated because we were with two brands.
“As you can imagine, the manufacturers don’t like to see that, so we had to split everything from a marketing and team side. Now with one brand and three cars, it’s easier to handle.”
The expansion to a three-car entry comes amid what Frey-Hilti described as a “really difficult time” for the racing arm of the Emil Frey group during the coronavirus pandemic, as sponsor partners cut marketing budgets. Frey-Hilti explained that this was partly due to the reduced visibility that came with last year’s races being held without spectators.
However, the team found that there was still demand from drivers with budgets, which ultimately ensured that its Lamborghini race program could grow ahead of its third year.
“At the end, it’s further income to run three cars, as well as the [better] chance for the championship. This is why we decided to run three cars,” said Frey-Hilti.
“And for sure Lamborghini are also supporting the strategy that we are running, especially on the sporting side.
“We are really happy that still, during such difficult times, we are ready to continue to run and even increase the project to three cars. We had quite a lot of demand of drivers who are wanting and willing to work together with us.”