Christian Engelhart says he can be proud of his performance at the Dubai 24 Hours, despite losing a podium finish inside the final hour with a terminal engine failure.
The 29-year-old German, who will again race a Lamborghini Huracan at this weekend’s Mugello 12 Hour, first began to feel the effects of the problem with a few hours remaining, but was still confident of securing third place when his hopes were dashed almost within touching distance of the finish.
“In a 24 hour event you win as a team and – as in our case – you lose as a team. That’s racing, but it’s still hard when things like that happen,” said Engelhart, who shared the Konrad-entered machine with team boss Franz Konrad, Rolf Ineichen, Marc Ineichen and factory driver Fabio Babini. “I don’t think anybody in the team could believe it at first – it happened exactly at the moment were we had our podium secured because our gap to P4 was big enough and everybody had done their final pit stop.
Despite the crushing disappointment, 2014 Dubai winner Engelhart was still able to draw the positives his first weekend in the car.
“The Lamborghini Huracan GT3 is a fantastic car, very fun to drive but completely different from a Porsche GT3 R,” he said. “You can really feel that the engine is right behind you and the steering gives you a great feeling. I enjoyed every moment of my stints in the car.
“We had an excellent race and even if we didn’t have the car to beat the Audis on pure pace, we managed to be in position for a podium finish at the end. I still think we as a team can be proud – all the drivers and the team did a really good job up to that moment and nothing can change that. We were losing around 10 km/h of straight line speed, which made traffic very difficult because we could only overtake in the corners, especially if you get overtaken back on the next straight.”
Engelhart will share the no. 963 Grasser Racing Lamborghini at Mugello with co-drivers Rolf Ineichen, Marc Ineichen and Adrian Amstutz and is hoping to put the wrongs of Dubai to rights.
“You never know, but I will do my best to make it happen,” he said. “I am happy to drive again with my co-drivers Mark, Rolf and Adrian and I am also looking forward to race for the GRT Grasser Racing Team with so many good people around!
Engelhart could not confirm whether he will make further appearances with Grasser this year, but expects his schedule to be “extremely full.”
The Mugello 12 Hours commences on Friday March 18th with four hours of racing before an overnight parc ferme, resuming for the remaining eight hours on Saturday.