Engine blow-up forces HB Racing to early retirement at 1000 km race in Le Castellet

The Blancpain Endurance Cup’s third race of the season in Le Castellet (France) started promising for HB Racing. After one hour, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 shared by Bernard Delhez (B), Mike Stursberg (D) and Gilles Vannelet (F) was covering the second position in its class. But a engine blow-up forced the international trio into an early retirement only a few minutes later.

After the second place at the season opener in Monza and the third place in Silverstone, the HB-Racing-drivers travelled to Le Castellet as the championship leaders of the AM-class, which is reserved for gentlemen drivers. In the qualifying session on Saturday morning, Mike Stursberg claimed the third starting position in class and position 57 in the overall classification for the car with the number 777.

When the lights turned green for the six-hour 1000-kilometer-race, Bernard Delhez was behind the wheel of the black and green Huracán from HB Racing. “The race started perfectly,” the Belgian reported. “I had a really good feeling in the car and improved to the second position in our class. Also in the overall classification I made up some places.”

But suddenly the Lamborghini engine blew up 29 laps after the start creating a wall of smoke. Bernard Delhez had to stop the car at the track-side. “There was no prior indication. A few moments before I had checked the temperatures and everything was fine. This a huge set-back in the championship or us,” the 50-year-old was disappointed. Because of the pointless weekend, the trio dropped back to fourth position in the championship standings.

“It’s hard to believe,” team principal Dietmar Hirsch was angry as well. “All in all, we had four similar engine blow-ups in the ADAC GT Masters and Blancpain GT Series this year. Lamborghini must find a solution for this problem. Until the retirement the race went perfect. We used the safety-car-period for an early stop and had a strategy advantage compared to the leading car in the AM-category. The class victory was for sure possible. Thanks a lot to my team and drivers for their perfect work. But all efforts were destroyed by the engine problem.”

HB Racing’s next race is on the schedule in four weeks: From July 21 to July 23 season’s races number seven and eight of the ADAC GT Masters will be held in Zandvoort. On the Dutch dune-circuit the team from Neumarkt celebrated its first podium result in the “League of dream sports-cars” last year. Only one week later the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps mark the season highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Cup.