Fielding a Lamborghini for the first time: Team Rosberg Photo: ADAC GT Masters
Fielding a Lamborghini for the first time: Team Rosberg Photo: ADAC GT Masters

Arno Zensen: We've learnt a lot

Rosberg team principal looks back on the comeback year for his outfit

After a seven-year absence, Team Rosberg returned to the ADAC GT Masters in 2018. Team boss Arno Zensen takes stock.

The team based in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse last contested the Super Sports Car League in 2009 and 2010. "We went into this season thinking of it as a sort of apprenticeship year," said Zensen, "because we knew that the standard of competition in the ADAC GT Masters is very high. Since we last competed in this series, it has moved on at a dramatic pace. It is a highly professional environment, and there were 35 or 40 factory or manufacturer pool drivers as well as numerous top-class teams on the grid."

The 2017 DTM championship-winning outfit were relatively lacking in experience of the GT racing scene and certainly of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3. The fact that their driver line-up of Jonathan Judek, Jimmy Eriksson, Aaro Vainio and Michele Beretta was also inexperienced meant that they struggled to make an impact early on. But as the season progressed, their form began to improve and, towards the end of the campaign, they were often the fastest Lamborghini in the field.

"We gradually reduced the deficit on the front-runners from an initial three seconds to less than half a second at the end of the season," adds Zensen. "This shows how much we have learnt in just a few months and that we are clearly moving in the right direction. If you take the Grasser team as a benchmark - probably the most successful Lamborghini team of the past few years - we were still a long way off at the beginning, but towards the end, we were matching them in terms of performance and were sometimes even faster. This shows that we haven't done such a bad job. I'm so proud of the guys for what they have achieved over the season."

The magnitude of the challenge in the ADAC GT Masters became immediately apparent in the season opener at Oschersleben in late April. Zensen: "For us, the race weekend was the opportunity to get our bearings. When we noticed there that we were sometimes more than three seconds adrift of the leaders, it became apparent to us that we were still very much at the beginning. The car was totally new to us and we first had to familiarise ourselves with it; that took a while, because we discovered some things on the cars that we had to sort out straightaway. We also had to get into a working relationship with Lamborghini. In order to accelerate the learning process, we also brought in reinforcements to the new GT team from the DTM team, to the extent that this did not cause scheduling conflicts. That worked well. Francesco Nenci was Technical Director of both projects. Our drivers were pretty surprised at first when they saw who we brought in and how many people were with us on a race weekend."

In the next few races, Team Rosberg steadily whittled away the deficit on the leaders. At the Nürburgring, they scored their first championship points with a P8 finish for Vainio and Beretta as team founder Keke Rosberg looked on from the side-lines. At the Sachsenring, Vainio qualified in tenth place on Saturday as fastest Lamborghini driver in the field for the first time. In the race itself, the number 53 Huracán notched up a further two championship points. In the season finale at Hockenheim, Vainio once again excelled in qualifying, booking P7 on the grid as the best-placed Lamborghini driver. In the race, the Finn and co-driver Beretta were up to fifth place at one point, and it was only a mechanical fault on the final lap that thwarted another Top Ten result.

The motor racing veteran also gives top marks to his driver squad: "Jonathan Judek and Jimmy Eriksson in the number 35 car were more or less our Junior team. Jimmy was the more experienced driver, and his job was therefore to teach Jonathan as much as possible. At first, Jonathan struggled a bit due to his lack of experience. But he came along amazingly well during the season and significantly closed the gap on Jimmy. He was incredibly hardworking and spent a lot of time with us back at base. He got on well with the engineers, and of the four squad members, he was the one who made the biggest developmental advance. We already knew from Jimmy that he could drive a car, and he formed a good alliance with Jonathan. Aaro and Michele in the sister car also developed well. Especially Aaro, who arrived with relatively little driving experience, was very fast on a couple of occasions towards the end of the season, and he was the best-placed Lamborghini driver a couple of times. Bearing in mind that all four were constantly taking as much care as possible not to smash up the car, they nonetheless put in a decent performance."

2019 Season