For Mirko Bortolotti, his homeland victory in Monza was more than a sentimental win: It was the accumulation of years of dedication, the confirmation that the team is on the right track. Two seasons have gone by in which the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 often looked like the perfect racing machine, but never sustained the power at display over the long haul. Bortolotti has been part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse since its foray into GT3 territory and believes the time is now for the manufacturer to double down on its Monza win.
“This win feels amazing,” a jubilant yet thoughtful Mirko Bortolotti says. “I’m super happy and proud of what we’ve achieved today.
“Obviously, this win didn’t grow on the trees, we’ve had to work for it throughout the winter and the past season. It’s not so much of a relief as it is a confirmation that we’re working well together and getting the maximum out of our package. That’s what makes me the happiest right now.”
Although Bortolotti and team mates Andrea Caldarelli and Christian Engelhart made it look like a simple win, it was far from it.
“I was able to lay the foundation for the success during the initial stint, when I went from fifth to second and pitted basically from the tail of Miguel Molina in the Ferrari, who was the leader at that point.
“The pit stop was very good, we passed the Ferrari in the pits and then were able to pull away afterwards.
“We also had a very good tyre strategy. The decision was to take some risks [during the weekend] and save all-new tyres for the race. We all had a new set of tyres and this obviously also made a difference. This helped us to open a gap, especially at the start of our stints.
“The whole weekend was really well planned and executed perfectly on track. You can plan many things, but at the end of it you just have to do it, and this we did.”
Only the AF Corse-run SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 seemed like a match for the Lambo, but that danger was largely averted when the Grasser Racing team dealt the AF Corse crew a blow during the first stop by sending the green Huracán back on track far in front of the Ferrari. The knock-out came in the final hour when the Ferrari was ordered a penalty for overtaking under yellow.
“I think [they would’ve had something for us]. When you look at the pace, we were very similar. It was all in the details, and they lost some time during the first pit stop which we could take to our advantage.
“But other than that, they were very competitive on track and it would’ve been a close call until the end. Their penalty definitely made our afternoon a bit easier towards the end of the race.”
In past seasons, Lamborghini has failed to put together a season-long competitive running, instead taking sporadic poles and victories. Was Monza 2017 the turning point?
“That is a good question. We are here [to win races and the championship]. We aim high. We prepare thoroughly and have a super strong team with very good drivers. And we now have two years of experience. Our experience from the last two seasons can help us this year to a make sure the bad things don’t happen again and the good things are repeated.
“I think we have the experience, know-how, the potential and the complete package to be competitive and successful and that’s what we’ll go for.”