“We couldn’t have imagined it any better than this,” Jeroen Mul said enthusiastically on his way back from the press conference. “I heard Giorgio Sanna, our director of Squadra Corse, tell Maurizio Reggiani—head of research and development for Lamborghini—in parc fermé that we wrote history today with what we’ve done. It’s what we had hoped and dreamed about. Everyone at Lamborghini wants nothing more than to win in their very first race with a factory car, in their home country of Italy, and to do it in such a way, you can’t describe it. It’s my greatest win ever.”
As the chequered flag flew over the Blancpain GT race at the historic racetrack of Monza, Lamborghini was in a state of bliss. Grasser Lamborghini driver Jeroen Mul heralded the win in Italy as his greatest ever. No one could’ve argued with that: the pace and solidity with which the Huracán took the win was one for the history books.
Things changed dramatically just hours later, when a technical infraction with the refuelling restrictor was detected by scrutineering and reported to the stewards of the meeting, leading to the disqualification of the number 19 car.
That handed victory to the Ferrari 458 of Rinaldi Racing. Remember how on Saturday I was confident that Rinaldi wasn’t going to win in Monza, despite taking pole position, because both their cars run in Pro-Am, rather than Pro? As it appears, the Am their number 333 Ferrari isn’t that much slower than the Pro drivers in Blancpain GT. Russian Am pilot Rinat Salikhov and Pro teammate Norbert Siedler managed to stay ahead of WRT Audi’s superteam with 2014 Blancpain GT champion Laurens Vanthoor, former Formula 1 hopeful Robin Frijns and former Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay. Although finishing a good 37 seconds behind the Squadra Corse car of Jeroen Mul, Fabio Babini and Andrew Palmer, at 20:00 hours the stewards of the meeting handed them the win after Lamborghini’s disqualification.
For Ferrari it turned out to be a brilliant weekend: a win overall and in Pro-Am and Am classes, as well as four cars in the top ten. All of without a single 458 entered in the Pro Cup as all cars compete in either Pro-Am or Am. With Blancpain GT’s race-by-race Balance of Performance, that advantage might be gone sooner rather than later, though.
What we can take away from the weekend is that Lamborghini doesn’t take any prisoners. The car was amazingly fast, didn’t encounter any problems, and did all of that straight out of the box. It’s clear that Lamborghini doesn’t need Reiter Engineering to build their cars, even if some questioned the manufacturers decision to go it alone.
Can Lamborghini keep this pace for the rest of the season? Jeroen Mul seems to have high hopes: “We will definitely do our best, we now want more of this and I have full confidence in the team and the car. Of course there are still points we can improve on: some things really have to go more smoothly, but this race was brilliant.”
Whatever the protest that Lamborghini filed will amount to, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 is here, and it’s here to win.
UPDATE 21 AUGUST: In appeal, the FIA has overturned the disquaification of the race-winning Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Four months after the race, Jeroen Mul, Fabio Babini and Andrew Palmer are given back their win, making Lamborghini’s first race in GT3 a resounding success.