Podium finish for race debut of Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT at Valencia
18 April 2004 -- The Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT impressed its rivals at Valencia this weekend, with a stunning race debut which resulted in a well-deserved third place on the podium for drivers Oliver Gavin and Peter Kox. The car demonstrated its potential with strong performances throughout the weekend - fastest on the first practice day, fifth on the grid and, after a gruelling three hour endurance race, a third place finish.
The Indy-style rolling start of the Valencia round of the FIA GT championship saw the 26 car field race in to the first corner cleanly, with the No.29 Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT driven by Oliver Gavin maintaining fifth place. On lap nine, Gavin inherited fourth place with the departure of the pole sitter, the Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7. Lapping consistently and maintaining his pace, Gavin settled into the race. An early pit stop by the third placed Ferrari promoted Gavin, but it was the first round of planned refuelling and driver changes that the Reiter Engineering team used to their advantage.
With the leader suffering a lengthy wheel change, the slick work of the Reiter pit crew put the Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT back on track quickly. Kox exited the pitlane in second place, and was soon up to speed, overtaking the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 to take the lead of the race. With Peter Kox behind the wheel, the car flew, building a 29 second lead over the nearest rival before pitting for the second time. A knocked fuse during the driver change caused the car to be delayed leaving the pitlane, which cost the team three places, and with Oliver Gavin at the helm the car returned to the track in fourth position. Gavin dropped to fifth but moved back up to fourth within a few laps. Hard on the heels of the third placed car, Gavin pursued relentlessly until he was able to overtake and move into a podium position. He continued to lap competitively and maintained position to the chequered flag, the first-ever race finish - and a spot on the podium - for the new Lamborg! hini Murciélago R-GT.
The Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT shone throughout the entire weekend. Friday practice day brought heavy rain, but this did not slow the pace of this new sports racing car. In the first session, the car demonstrated the improvements achieved through winter development, posting third quickest time. However, this strong performance was eclipsed in the afternoon with the Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT topping the time sheets, recording the fastest time of the day by the end of the second practice session.
For Saturday qualifying, the weather improved with sunny conditions throughout the day. Having proved its speed in the wet, the Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT continued to impress, with fifth fastest lap in the first session. Afternoon qualifying saw the team continue to lap with the front runners, but the stewards deemed that the team had infringed the technical regulations and disallowed the times set in this session, although an uneven floor surface in the scrutineering area caused the discrepancy as the car was within the ride height rules. However the morning time was enough to secure fifth place on the grid, and for the car to go on to a strong race and third place finish.
"It is a fantastic result for Lamborghini and Reiter Engineering, especially at this circuit where it is difficult to finish, as it is so hard on the cars. They have put a huge amount of effort into the development of the car and today we showed how competitive the Lamborghini is and how much potential we have.
I enjoyed a good stint in the car, overtaking the Ferrari to take the lead. I could be aggressive when I needed to be, so that I was able to build a gap, but without putting too much stress on the car. At the end of the day, we needed to finish. All in all, a tremendous effort by everyone at Reiter and Lamborghini - a great day!"
"The race went very well. The car was excellent and the team did a really good job with the pit stops - it was just a shame that we lost time at the final stop. I touched a fuse getting into the car and it popped out, and we needed to restart the car. When I rejoined the race we had lost a lot of time and had dropped to fourth place, but I battled with the Saleens and made up places to take third position by the end of the race.
If anyone had told me before the start of the weekend that we would finish on the podium I would not have believed them. Given that we haven't had much testing in dry conditions, and we are still early in the development programme, we are very optimistic for future results. I enjoyed the race - it's a fantastic result for everyone at Reiter Engineering and Automobili Lamborghini."
Manfred Fitzgerald, Marketing Manager, Automobili Lamborghini:
"This is a significant step in the development programme of the Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT and is a public demonstration of the potential of our new car. It has proved its reliability, its competitiveness and the performance potential so, of course, we are extremely pleased with the result of our first race outing.
"We have exceeded our expectations. We aimed to run competitively and finish the race, but to have a podium place is a welcome reward for everyone's efforts in developing this car to the level of performance that we have achieved."