Since his first entry into the Blancpain GT Series, Lorenz Frey has proudly been racing with Jaguar. The team-owner brought his Emil Frey Racing to Europe’s top-level championship in 2013 to race the self-built Jaguar XK GT3, achieving considerable success. Two years ago, the Swiss team added the Lexus RC-F to its GT3 program, steadily moving the Japanese car up through the ranks.
2018 sees the Lexus RC-F GT3 take on the Blancpain GT Series, an adventure that one race weekend in has not yet yielded the hoped-for results.
“It wasn’t a good weekend, unfortunately,” Lorenz Frey says at the end of a long weekend in Zolder for the Blancpain GT season-opener.
“This was the first race of the year and on a new track for us as the car has never been here at Zolder. It was quite difficult as we didn’t have much running-time due to red flags in some of the free practice sessions.
“To find the right set-up during the weekend is quite difficult, especially in such a high-level championship.
“Also, the Pirelli tyres are new for us. Last year, we did one race and compared to the other teams they have much more experience on these tyres. Last year [in International GT Open] we were on the Michelins and as we know the car quite well we could maximise the performance of the tyres. Here we can’t, yet.
“In the end, we did make some progress over the weekend.”
Things went from bad to worse for Emil Frey Racing when a speedy trip through the gravel at the start of Saturday’s race took out the number 14 Lexus.
“[Albert Costa] went into the gravel and we couldn’t continue as the front was destroyed.
“Positions 13 and 14 for sure is not the place where we want to be. I think the potential is much higher; the cars are really good.
“When in qualifying you’re at the back and have to overtake during the race, it’s so difficult. You’re stuck and here in Zolder when you’re starting from 16th and 17th you have no chance to get further.
“We now have a short window to get ready for Monza. We know this track much better; we’ve already been testing there. I’m pretty sure it’ll be easier for us.”
The weekend at Zolder was not the first outing for Emil Frey Racing with the Lexus. Two years ago, the team, in a joint operation with local Nürburgring team Ring Racing, brought the first iteration of the Lexus RC-F GT3 to VLN. As became evident when Farnbacher Racing showed up with what would ultimately become the RC-F raced today in Blancpain GT, the Nürburgring prototype was a completely different beast.
“It is quite different,” Lorenz Frey says about the car raced at the Nordschleife championship.
“At the Nordschleife you drive a completely different set-up, and the car has been totally re-developed since. The current one has been homologated. The car before was more like a prototype. It was a really good test car, absolutely, but more based on the Nordschleife.
“Otherwise, it’s still the RC-F: it still has the same engine in it, but a lot of development was done on different areas to finally homologate the car.”
Next to the two Lexus’, Emil Frey Racing has opted to keep the Jaguar XK GT3 around. The car that brought so much attention to the team since its first foray into motorsports, won’t be forgotten. Even a long-rumoured successor Jaguar model is not out of the question.
“This season we are only doing four races, unfortunately. It’s not that much, but now with our team’s capacity it’s quite difficult to run three cars, so we reduced the number of races.
“We still did a lot of testing with the Jaguar, we believe we can be competitive and try and show some good results.
“What is next is still unsure. For the moment, we focus on this car and bring out the maximum, keep taking those chequered flags and I hope there’s a future.”
With a factory project in Formula E and a Jaguar F-Type GT4 built for a customer in British GT, Jaguar is making a re-appearance in motorsports. Lending a helping hand to Emil Frey Racing’s Jaguar GT3 program, however, is still the stuff of dreams for Lorenz Frey.
“But we are a good partner as a retailer and importer of the Jaguar brand. Jaguar is a very important brand for us: my grandfather started working together with Jaguar in 1926—it’s a long tradition.
“We respect Jaguar racing in Formula E, that is their focus. Of course, we would love [for them] to be more involved in GT racing. If this is happening or not—there are some discussions, but right now nothing’s decided.”