Scoring an overall podium finish in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race at Silverstone was a significant achievement for Emil Frey Lexus Racing, according to Stephane Ortelli.
The Swiss team gave the Japanese automaker its first-ever overall podium in the series after the Lexus RC F GT3 showed improved pace following a difficult start to the season.
Ortelli, Markus Palttala and Norbert Siedler combined in the No. 114 car to finish third in the three-hour race on Sunday.
“It’s good to have a Lexus on the podium after a few races in Blancpain,” Ortelli told Sportscar365. “It’s such a tough championship; it’s the hardest GT championship in the world.
“The competition is crazy and of course, we were pushing very, very, hard. We will be there. We are learning every race.
“We struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year but now we are getting better and better and to have this overall podium means a lot for us as a private team.
“Emil Frey Racing has been improving the car and we still need to work to find good speed in slow corners but here, on this medium/high speed circuit, it was good.”
The team is campaigning a pair of Lexus GT3s in both the Endurance and Sprint Cups as well as a partial-season entry with its venerable G3 Jaguar in the Silver Cup.
Having run the Jaguar for several seasons, the Swiss squad is no stranger to the championship and Ortelli believes this experience has helped get the Lexus program up to speed.
“We just have to learn how to adapt to the championship as well,” he explained. “Running the Jaguar gave us a chance to understand what a car needs to do to go fast in Blancpain, but they are not waiting for us.
“The competition is so tough, so crazy, it took us a little while. Now to stay here or to go quicker, it is going to be more work, but there is no reason why we can’t improve.”
Ortelli is hopeful of continued success moving forward and, when asked about the team’s chances of claiming an overall race win, said: “If there is one to get, it’s Spa.”
For teammate Palttala, Sunday’s podium finish is almost good enough.
“It feels like a win,” the Finn said in the post-race press conference.
“It’s the first ever overall podium for the team and we’ve made a big step since the beginning of the season, so it’s pretty awesome.”