Mirko Bortolotti was a Lamborghini works driver for five years, during which time he drove for the GRT Grasser Racing team in the ADAC GT Masters – 2015 and 2016 as a guest starter, and from 2017 as a regular member of the line-up. The 29-year-old Italian, who now lives in Vienna, and his team-mate Christian Engelhart were in contention for the title right up to the penultimate weekend of the season. Bortolotti and Engelhart registered three victories over the course of the campaign, as did the ultimate champions Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde (Audi) and the Corvette pairing of Marvin Kirchhöfer and Markus Pommer. They also led the field for a total of 114 laps – more than any of their opponents. And with three pole positions and two further grid positions on the front row, Bortolotti was the top qualifier. The duo were rewarded for their consistency over the season with the runner-up trophy.
"This has been my best season so far in the ADAC GT Masters," said Bortolotti. "But it was also clear from the outset that expectations were higher because of this year’s line-up. In previous years, it had been pretty obvious that – at least on paper – we were not going to be contenders for the championship. At the end of the day, I’m very happy with the way this year has gone, especially when you remember how many points we lost at the start of the season. Considering our problematic start, this is a very good result. But I also have to say that Kelvin van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser were exceptionally strong this year and deserved the title."
Bortolotti was particularly impressed by how well the Grasser team came back after finishing outside the points in both races at the Oschersleben curtain-raiser. "After the first two races, we were 35 points adrift of the leaders, and it looked as though we were well and truly out of the title fight. To come away empty-handed from the Sunday race after securing pole position was a bitter disappointment, because if you get a chance in the ADAC GT Masters, you have to make the most of it. But it’s not just about the points. The zero scores also have a mental impact. If you process a setback like this badly, it can affect your entire season. However, the team showed character and quickly put it behind them. We then went on to make the best of the situation, chalking up several wins and pole positions. We were in with a real chance of taking the title until the Hockenheim weekend."
Bortolotti is making a significant career move in the coming year, switching to Audi and, for the first time since 2015, no longer driving for Lamborghini. Why the change of marque? "The move is a big deal for me. Obviously, Lamborghini have always been dear to my heart, because they gave me a chance that I probably wouldn’t have got anywhere else. Consequently, it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the brand. Audi made me an offer that was very attractive and gave me a lot of options. The fact that I had already achieved pretty much everything that was possible with Lambo made it a bit easier for me to take on this new challenge. I love and live for motorsport, so I was ready to take a step that might take me out of my comfort zone and offer some new challenges. It is a huge privilege to be driving officially for Audi, a manufacturer that has achieved a great deal in motorsport. I’m really looking forward to the new chapter in my career."
Towards the end of November, Bortolotti did some initial testing in the Audi R8 LMS at Portimão: "It was important for me to get to know the car as quickly as possible and to understand how I can get the most out of it." No decision has yet been taken about which series the ex-Formula 2 champion will be competing in next year: "I hope that I will be lining up in the ADAC GT Masters. I would be delighted to be back there again. But I still don’t know exactly what my programme for 2020 will consist of. Who knows – we might be surprised."