Christian Engelhart has been dropped from Lamborghini’s factory program following the release of the Italian manufacturer’s 2019 works driver lineup.
Lamborghini announced that the 2017 Blancpain GT Series champion will not continue with the Squadra Corsa operation, although it did not state an official reason for his departure.
The decision is believed to be linked to an incident that resulted in the post-race disqualification of the No. 63 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from last month’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup finale.
Race organizers found that after the race Engelhart removed his gloves, unbuckled his harness and destroyed an SD card containing video data from the driver-facing onboard camera.
When approached by Sportscar365 about the repercussions of the Nurburgring incident, Grasser Racing team principal Gottfried Grasser suggested Engelhart will continue to have a role with the team next year.
“I always understand the psychology from drivers with mistakes happening,” he said.
“I always see the pressure that these guys have, they’re fighting for their job, they want to do everything the best. We are all humans and we make mistakes.
“It would be the biggest pleasure for us to work again in a full season.”
Engelhart was signed to the Lamborghini factory lineup at the start of last year, along with Marco Mapelli and Andrea Caldarelli.
He went on to win the Blancpain GT Series overall title with Mirko Bortolotti and also claimed the Endurance Cup crown with Bortolotti and Caldarelli.
Keen and Perera Join Factory Stable
Phil Keen and Franck Perera have been confirmed as additions to Lamborghini’s global works program, joining the retained Bortolotti, Caldarelli, Marco and Giovanni Venturini.
Keen joins having finished second in the British GT Championship standings with a Lamborghini, while Perera raced with the marque in multiple championships this year.
The Frenchman helped Grasser claim GT Daytona class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona class, as well as competing full-time in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and ADAC GT Masters.
In addition, Raffaele Giammaria will again serve as a test driver and coordinator of the Young Driver Program.
Lamborghini plans to run a shootout at the end of this year between “the most promising members” of its GT3 junior scheme, with the winner going on to receive Squadra Corse backing in 2019.
“We are pleased to announce our factory drivers, who in 2019 will apply all their experience to support the GT3 customer teams competing in the most prestigious GT championships in the world,” said Giorgio Sanna, head of Lamborghini motorsport.
“I extend my welcome to Squadra Corse to Phil and Franck: in the last few seasons they have demonstrated that they have the speed and attitude that Lamborghini expects from an official driver.”
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.