|27. October 2023||Zurück zur Artikelübersicht »|
Team from Austria experiences an emotional weekend in Barcelona
Barcelona/Spain: The final event of the international GT Open took place last weekend, October 20-22, in Barcelona, Spain. Eastalent Racing’s goal was to score full points, especially because the team had two zero-point finishes earlier in the year at Hungaroring and Paul Ricard. Team owner Peter Reicher shares his hopes: “We are currently in third position in the championship and need to score the maximum points to move up and win the title”.
Saturday started quite promisingly. After eleventh place in qualifying and a terrific victory in Saturday’s race, the Austrian team took the lead in the championship and was suddenly in a good position to secure the title on Sunday. The race to the finish line couldn’t have been more exciting – the championship was decided in the last lap of the final race.
Team owner Peter Reicher reports: “We couldn’t have written the script for Saturday’s race any better. We knew that eleventh position in qualifying was not enough to manage the race independently. After analyzing the ten competitors ahead, it was clear that we’d get some help from the protagonists in front of us in the first corner. Simon only had to carefully observe the situation in the first corner from a proper distance and emerged from the action in lap one in third place. The rest of the race was a strong team performance and Christopher perfectly managed to bring our Audi R8 LMS evo II across the finish line in first position.”
From Simon Reicher’s point of view in the cockpit, Saturday’s race shaped up as follows: “This is what I dreamed of on the way to Barcelona. To take home a victory once this season. And it was exactly what we had planned before the season – to start a race at the front of the grid and win a race. This was a great result!”
Christopher Haase explained his view of the prefinal as follows: “We deserved to have this race a while ago. Our first victory in the GT Open was more than overdue and very emotional. Many factors came together in the race. Simon made a terrific start. Staying out of the chaos was the key factor for success. Then it was my job to take home our first win after the pit stop.”
Sunday’s race was an up and down of emotions for the championship title. Due to their victory in Saturday’s race, the Austrians had the added challenge of an obligatory 10-second pause during their pit stop. Peter Reicher looks back on the situation: “I grew more gray hairs in this race. It was a roller coaster of emotions. We were constantly calculating the points of our competitors and whether it would be enough for the championship. Throughout the race, we calculated gaps of less than one point. We crossed the checkered flag in sixth position, which miraculously sufficed to win the title. We couldn’t keep our emotions under control. What a terrific team performance. Everyone in the team played a part in achieving such a great result as the winning team. I’m very proud of everyone in our team.”
Simon Reicher was also subject to many emotions in the grand final: “The race was incredibly difficult. The conditions were extremely tough. After the safety car, the tire pressures dropped and it was impossible to keep good temperatures in the tires. It was a fight for survival and I was surrounded by professional drivers who knew exactly what they were doing. Those were the longest twenty-five minutes of my life.”
Sunday’s qualifying put Eastalent Racing in the fast lane. Christopher Haase was in charge of the qualification session: “With second place in qualifying, we knew that our pace was not quite good enough to lead the pack. A big thumbs up to the entire team for providing us with a car with a good starting base for the race. It was more difficult after the stewards decided to give us a 3-position penalty because I drove my fastest lap in Q2 under a yellow flag in turn 4. We accepted this decision and started the final race from fifth place. The start was very good. We moved up to third place relatively quickly. The pressure was enormous to secure the championship victory. Our pit stop wasn’t perfect, I think we came in one lap too late. The six to seven seconds we lost would have been a very good cushion. Things didn’t go smoothly for our closest competitors either and they had their issues too. Simon made the back end of our Audi R8 LMS evo II very wide at the end of the race and defended our sixth place very well.”
Conclusion: “We started the season with the goal of competing successfully. There was never any talk of a championship title. As a team, we are in the second year of our young motorsports career. I am thrilled and proud of all those involved and who have supported us on our way. We would have never managed it on our own. A big thank you to all of you. Everyone can be very proud of themselves. We competed confidently in a completely unfamiliar series on unfamiliar racing circuits. We constantly put our heads together off of the race track, in our shop, and during testing days. And even though questionable decisions by the race organizers sometimes hampered us, we never gave up. Before Saturday’s race, we never expected to win the championship. The fact that we were suddenly leading the championship on Saturday afternoon was a great surprise,” explains Reicher.
“With sixth place on Sunday, we had the same number of points in the championship as the runner-up. We won the championship because we had more second places throughout the season. This really shows our incredible team spirit and motivation for constant success. Eastalent Racing never gives up. We have allowed ourselves very few mistakes and have consistently improved our performance all season. I have been involved in professional motorsports for 14 years. But this championship with its close finish will stay in my memory until the end of my career. I am happy to say we deserve to be at the top,” says Audi Sport driver Christopher Haase.
Simon Reicher comments on speculations about defending the 2024 International GT Open title: “After the race is before the race. We will celebrate the championship and then start preparing for 2024. The GT Open will be more exciting and challenging because an additional race is being planned and I expect more top-tier teams to join the series in 2024. Until then, we have a lot of homework to do. In any case, we’ll start next year full of energy and winning spirits!”