Christian Engelhart: “I feel nervous and excited–and that’s good”

Two weeks ago, the mental switch was made almost seamlessly: the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title is gone, now the focus shifts to the overall Blancpain GT Series. Fighting back to fifth place at the Nürburgring meant Christian Engelhart goes into the final round at Circuit de Barcelona with the overall championship within reach—while trailing in the Endurance Cup by just 8 points.

2017 has been an absolute breakthrough year for Christian Engelhart in what has only been his first season competing in both the Endurance and the Sprint Cup for overall Blancpain GT honours—as well as his first campaign as an Lamborghini works pilot.

The Grasser Racing driver has come to Catalunya for the title decider feeling ready to go.

“I feel pretty nervous and excited,” a cheerful Engelhart says on Friday afternoon. “But that’s a good thing: I’ve done my best races being under pressure and feeling nervous. It’s pretty normal, I have it every race.

“We’re in a good starting position: we have a good gap in the overall Cup, but of course we’re also looking at the Endurance Cup and the Team’s championship. There’s so much to take into account.”

With its long straights, the Catalan race track should fit the Lamborghini Huracán GT3’s characteristics quite well, but he thought the same of the Nürburgring.

“Before we went to the Nürburgring it looked like we were going to have a very strong car, looking at last year’s performance. It turned out that some other brands were stronger that weekend.

“Normally, this track should suit us well, so it should also suit our main competitors well, like Audi, Mercedes, and—relevant for us in the Drivers’ championship—Bentley. They’ve all been performing well here as well.

“It’s going to be very tight. The Balance of Performance is very good, it allows a lot of brands to win. Let’s see what happens.”

Having been a title contender in other series before, Engelhart is familiar with the task ahead.

“It’s the first time for me to drive in the overall Blancpain GT championship and it’s great and an honour to immediately fight for the title in my debut season.

“I’ve been racing for the championship in other series like the ADAC GT Masters and in the Carrera Cup a few times now. I know the situation: we’re keeping it cool and do our best.

“In the end, it’s a race like any other weekend. First, we have to have a good qualifying and then be flawless in the race. In the last hour or so, then you can start calculating, looking where you are—until then it’s maximum push.”

The bad weekend at the Nürburgring and the loss of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup championship won’t be in the back of Engelhart’s mind going into the Barcelona finale.

“It’s never easy in racing. It’s easy to say it, but never to do it. What went wrong at the Nürburgring was the qualifying. We had to start from the back and then you obviously have to take some risks to get to the front. You also get into stupid situations that wouldn’t happen if you’re further at the front.

“The focus is really on this race, to just do a good job and finish as high as possible in the points. It would be great to finish the season on a high.

“At the Nürburgring Sprint Cup race it didn’t go very well in the first sessions. In the main race we fought back well, but in general it wasn’t an easy weekend.

“We’re hoping for a better weekend here.

“First of all, we need to focus on qualifying well, that would make life a lot easier. But then again, the competitiveness is so high that you can’t plan for it, you have to see what happens.”

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Miguel is the founder and editor-in-chief of GT REPORT. He’s more interested in the human side of the sport and the heroics of racing. Also the founder of automotive PR and photography agency GTXM.media. When it doesn’t clash with racing you’ll find Miguel cheering football club Vitesse on.

Miguel Bosch

Miguel is the founder and editor-in-chief of GT REPORT. He’s more interested in the human side of the sport and the heroics of racing. Also the founder of automotive PR and photography agency GTXM.media. When it doesn’t clash with racing you’ll find Miguel cheering football club Vitesse on.