Grasser Racing team boss Gottfried Grasser has slammed the BOP process after Mercedes filled the top six positions on the grid for the Spa 24 Hours.
The only Grasser Lamborghini to reach the top-20 Superpole will start eighth after Mirko Bortolotti qualified six tenths adrift of Clemens Schmid’s pole-sitting No. 85 HTP Mercedes-AMG GT3.
On his return to GT racing, 2014 Blancpain Sprint Cup champion Maxi Goetz lapped a full three tenths quicker than Schmid and almost a second ahead of the best non-Mercedes driven by seventh-placed Laurens Vanthoor, but was subsequently stripped of pole for overtaking Shane van Gisbergen’s ailing McLaren under yellow flags. Nevertheless, Goetz’s second best time was still good enough for sixth.
“For me it’s a really ridiculous situation and it’s close to a big joke for every other manufacturer,” Grasser said. “You cannot go to a tennis player and make the area of his racquet a half size to the other one and that’s what we have now to be honest. When you put the theoretical sectors from the Mercedes together, you see that the car is capable of going more than one second faster than all the rest.”
When Racing.GT spoke to Schmid, he raised the possibility that the other manufacturers had been holding back in the hope of gaining a more favourable BOP, but that theory is refuted by Grasser, who maintained that Bortolotti had extracted the absolute maximum from his package. The next-best Lamborghini of Barwell Motorsport’s Phil Keen will start 16th.
“This year is very strange for us, we improved at every track compared to last year by over one second and Mirko is the only guy at the moment who is able to bring this car on the pace,” Grasser continued. “We have tried to squeeze out every drop that is possible here in this championship and in the ADAC championship, we are on the absolute limit we can do.
“I understand that for SRO and ADAC it’s their first year [with the Mercedes] and it’s not easy for them, but we will have to live with it, hopefully next year it will be better.”
Speaking before Goetz’s penalty had been confirmed, Schmid spoke of his delight with his qualifying run. The Austrian had it all to do on his second flyer after his first lap was compromised by traffic that caused him to miss his braking point at the Bus Stop, but Schmid put it behind him to deny the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes of Felix Rosenqvist pole by just 0.009s.
“Actually I was not thinking about that or worrying about ‘this is the lap that counts’, I just tried to drive as fast as I could and I’m really happy that it worked out,” said the elated Schmid. “For sure it was one of the best laps I ever did in Spa! I’m really happy, maybe it will be pole position but to be honest there should be a white flag and not a yellow flag. Maxi was the quickest, so he should be on pole in my opinion.”