A fortuitously timed Full Course Yellow period combined with strong driving enabled Emil Frey Racing’s Silver Cup-class Lamborghini crew to score an unexpected overall podium in the 3 Hours of Monza, according to team principal Lorenz-Frey Hilti.
Despite a puncture during the second hour, the No. 14 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo finished third on Sunday with Rolf Ineichen, Alex Fontana and Ricardo Feller at the wheel.
This turned out to be a landmark result considering it was the first time that a Silver Cup car had finished on the overall podium in a Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup race since the category’s introduction there in 2018.
Frey-Hilti explained how Emil Frey fought back from Fontana’s puncture early in the second hour to appear at the sharp end and claim a top-three position behind AKKA-ASP’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and the winning Dinamic Motorsport Porsch 911 GT3 R.
The main contributing factor was the timing of the fifth and final slow period with just under an hour to go, caused by a BMW M6 GT3 that had parked trackside with a puncture shortly after several Pro teams including ASP and Dinamic pitted for the last time.
“With the No. 14 we had an unlucky start, getting pushed out and losing several places,” Frey-Hilti told Sportscar365.
“After the first stint, we faced a tire puncture and had to pit. Luckily, we pitted just as it was about to become a Full Course Yellow so we didn’t lose too much time.
“We changed to slicks when we had the puncture and tried to extend the stint as much as possible, but it didn’t really work out. We were two or three seconds slower than the top cars on wets.
“Then we came into pit in P17 and we have been really lucky. Just before we decided to pit there was a Full Course Yellow implemented: we pitted just a little bit before the yellow so we could do the pit stop during this time and gain a lot of places.
“This was the last mandatory pit stop. That’s why we jumped right back up to the front and then we kept this position. At the end, we were lucky with the Full Course Yellow period that we had at the right time.”
Frey-Hilti also praised his new Silver Cup crew for adapting to the mixed conditions and fighting the Pro entries.
Feller took the final-hour restart in third place and pressured AKKA-ASP’s Jules Gounon whilst being pursued by Antonio Fuoco and Alessandro Pier Guidi in Iron Lynx Ferraris.
“I think we had the chance to get some extremely good Silver drivers: younger kids with Feller and Fontana who did a mega job, combined together with Ineichen who has incredible experience,” said Frey-Hilti.
“He did the really difficult phase at the start and kept the car going.
“I think the team is working really well together. They help each other a lot. I hope that in the future we can consider that a Silver can often be on the overall podium! But for sure we needed several things together today to achieve that.”
Team to “Check Really Deeply” on Multiple Punctures
Emil Frey Racing plans to conduct a “deeper analysis” into why all three of its Lamborghinis sustained wet tire punctures during the season-opener.
It is unlikely to be the only team taking this action considering several cars, including the front-running Team WRT Audi and Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG, experienced rapid deflations on wet tires during hour two when the track was in a slow drying phase.
While Emil Frey’s Silver Cup car was able to recover from its setback, the No. 114 Pro Lamborghini retired after the puncture sheared bodywork and dislodged the rear wing.
The No. 163 machine initially lost ground by changing to wet tires just before the first FCY, while a second puncture condemned it to 23rd.
“From the past we have seen the tire in more and more dry conditions is heating up quite a lot,” said Frey-Hilti. “What the cause was, I cannot tell 100 percent sure yet. But it is strange.
“Today we saw all kinds of brands – BMW, Mercedes – many cars struggling. For sure most on the grid have been set up for dry conditions. I don’t know if the tires or the setup was so aggressive for the tires. But it for sure shouldn’t have happened.
“There was also a safety point of view, with so many punctures on the rain tires. I cannot tell exactly what happened. But we for sure have to check really deeply, especially if we have other races in this condition.”