Emil Frey Racing’s decision to switch GT3 manufacturers from Lamborghini to Ferrari was driven “purely on marketing” reasons, according to team principal Lorenz-Frey Hilti.
The Swiss team will campaign the new Ferrari 296 GT3 this year after four seasons of running Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos in championships such as Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, ADAC GT Masters and International GT Open.
Frey-Hilti explained that the brand change arose after the team’s parent company, Emil Frey Group, won a tender to operate the official Ferrari road car dealership in Munich.
This gave Emil Frey Racing, which ran Lexus and Jaguar entries before moving to Lamborghini, the option to run a GT3 program that intertwines with the main business.
Furthermore, the team’s contract with Lamborghini expired at the end of last year, coinciding with the end of the Huracan GT3 Evo and the launch of the EVO2 car update.
“By the end of last year, in October, we had started the collaboration with Ferrari in Munich,” Frey-Hilti told Sportscar365.
“We can represent the brand as a car dealer. This was always a bit difficult [before] as we have never been a Lamborghini dealer anywhere in our regions. We have some dealerships for Volkswagen Group, the mother of Lamborghini, but we didn’t sell the brand.
“We always ran with brands we represent, like Lexus and Jaguar. Then, with Ferrari, when we started to work together, the point of racing also came up as a topic.
“Iron Lynx was leaving [for Lamborghini] and [Ferrari] have been keen to look for a new team and new opportunity.
“We thought that, as we are partners already in our main business, this could make sense. We can do things for our customers in Munich and bring them to races.
“It was a bit difficult to invite someone from our dealerships [when] we don’t sell Lamborghinis. We tried to push the brand, but it was difficult with a brand you can’t sell.”
Emil Frey is awaiting delivery of two Ferrari 296 GT3s that it hopes to receive later this month, in time for pre-season testing. It is yet to confirm where it will run the cars, although the DTM and GTWC Europe are known to have come under evaluation.
“As we decided to get in contact with Ferrari quite late, they already had a huge order of cars,” Frey-Hilti explained.
“The point was more if we would get cars for the start of the season. They just finished the homologation process, and we had to first get the answer to find a way to work together.
“We have been always hoping for two to three cars. The season start, it looks like, will be with two cars. Maybe a third car [will arrive] for next season or more testing possibilities.”
Frey-Hilti stated that Emil Frey was satisfied with its four-year stint with Lamborghini and that the decision to switch GT3 brands was based “purely” on commercial factors.
It won the GT Open title on the first attempt in 2019 before moving to GTWC Europe with Pro entries. It won four GTWC Europe Sprint Cup races and had two Endurance Cup overall podiums, as well as securing a hat-trick of the Silver Cup class titles in 2021.
Last year Emil Frey added the ADAC GT Masters teams’ title to its honor roll.
“We have been really happy with our good collaboration with Lamborghini,” Frey-Hilti said.
“We struggled quite a lot with the new [Pirelli] tires, especially on the rear in the Endurance races [last season]. It was quite a challenge to keep the car at a good performance level but not risk tire punctures.
“On the other side, the experience we built up will be difficult to keep, just starting with Ferrari. We drove at so many different tracks and had experience with setups, which we need to build up again.
“Since we are now 12 years in GT racing, we have a lot of experienced people who started with us at the beginning. We have kept them long-term, which will help.”
Frey-Hilti added that the team is “really looking forward” to its Ferrari affiliation, which he suggested could expand into support of Ferrari Challenge entries in future years.
“It’s a big, big challenge for us, but we believe in the product,” he said. “Talking to some drivers who have tested the car, it looks promising.
“But it’s a big step. With Lamborghini or Lexus, we did one year starting in GT Open. We still want to continue in one of the top series, so we have to be in good shape from the beginning.
“This will be a challenge, but the car seems reliable. I hope we can find a quick way to be competitive.”